Air passengers can now send and receive texts mid-flight

Airlines across Europe have been cleared to allow passengers to use their mobile phones during flights.

New assessments from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have shown that portable electronic devices (PEDs) do not pose a safety risk and passengers can now use their devices throughout flights. Until now mobile phones and other PEDs have needed to be switched to ‘airplane mode’, with passengers being limited to sending text messages or making phone calls only from the terminal.

Each airline will still need to follow a safety assessment process and the decision to allow the use of mobile phones will ultimately be up to the airline, reports EASA spokesman Ilias Maragakis said: “We’re basically opening the door where, in theory, you’ll be able to continue making your phone call through the gate throughout the flight … like you would on a train”.

Although network connection at 30,000 feet is likely to be shaky at best, there are special communications packages which can be installed which enable phone connections at cruising altitude, noted British Airways has allowed a limited use of PEDs since December 2013, and allows business class passengers on a specific flight from London to New York to send texts and use Wi-Fi.

Policies are likely to differ among airlines, but initial reaction shows that while some may not allow phone conversations during flights for passenger comfort, the sending and receiving of text messages will be widely accepted.