British Airways to allow gadget use

Customers can use devices during take-off and landing

British Airways (BA) has become the first UK airline to implement new rules surrounding the use of electronic gadgets on its aircraft.

The change will mean people can use their device during take-off and landing as long as it is set to airplane mode. Previously, any electrical item had to remain switched off until the plane was safely in the air.

The airline estimates that each passenger will be afforded an extra 30 minutes of screen time by the switch, an opportunity BA flight training manager Captain Ian Pringle said would be "very welcome news" for customers.

Permission for the plans was granted by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) after BA provided evidence it would be safe to do so. The airline undertook research using electronic devices on its flights, something every airline that wishes to implement similar regulations will need to do.

Other British companies reportedly looking to follow BA's example include Virgin Atlantic and Monarch, but neither has presented any data to the CAA as yet.

The European commission has also indicated that 3G and 4G could be made available to passengers once planes are flying at over 3,000 feet, which would mean mobile phone calls and web browsing would be available to all passengers for the first time.

US flyers oppose plans

As electronic devices begin to infiltrate UK flights, it seems many American passengers are not particularly keen on the idea of sharing the cabin with fellow passengers who are engrossed in their phone or laptop.

An Associated Press poll revealed that 48 per cent of passengers did not wish to see the changes brought in, while only 19 per cent did and a further 30 per cent did not mind either way.

US airline Delta has also indicated that it will keep its policy of not allowing devices at take-off or landing even if the new rules are brought into force.

While business flyers see the changes as beneficial to them, those who oppose the plans suggest they would object to having their peace and quiet disrupted by mobile phone users. There were also concerns about passengers potentially being distracted by games, films or work during in-flight safety demonstrations.

Daniel Nolan, managing director at theEword, said: "While the prospect of an extra half hour of screen time will seem useful to many, it is perhaps understandable that those looking for a peaceful flight will not appreciate being trapped next to somebody on their phone for a sustained period of time."