Europe on Track to Become Much More Generous than the US for Gate-to-Gate Electronics

The U.S. now allows airlines to certify so that its passengers can use electronic devices gate-to-gate. Large devices like laptops that could be projectiles must still be put away below 10,000 feet (but hardcover books can stay out). Electronics are supposed to be in ‘airplane mode’ once you start taxiing to take off (but not while taxiing to the gate upon landing, and not that flight attendants check anymore).

I think this change is great, but so far I use my Android phone on the ground to answer emails (which I then connect to inflight wireless and send upon reaching 10,000 feet). I don’t use a tablet or iPad because I don’t want to lug around another device. I use my laptop, I’m not supposed to have it out at the beginning and end of my flight.

Over in Europe, they’re moving towards gate-to-gate electronics as well with one further liberalization: the use of mobile data plans. If individual airlines choose to allow it, you won’t have to go into airplane mode.

The European Commission has approved the use of 3G and 4G data plans while inflight (2G was already approved). The ruling goes into effect at the end of November, putting it in the airlines’ hands whether or not they’ll permit it.

(HT: sobore on Milepoint)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Wait, you mean that the pilot’s communication with the tower won’t be compromised if I don’t put my phone in airplane mode? The plane is not in danger of crashing? They’ve been lying to me all these years? I feel so dumb. 😛

  2. Inflight mobile networks are nothing new, they have GSM on some SAS planes, I’ve connected to it but never used it. Because it goes under international roaming, as it is essentially satellite communication, but with an in-flight GSM network. Fees are enormous.

    I think sticking to the in-flight wifi is a good idea.

  3. So, you are saying that the Euro flights will still be spared after the cabin door closes, until touchdown, from the cell phone orators that evil secret agencies obviously seed random flights with!

    I actually left the DTW Delta lounge early the other late evening because I could not stand listening — from 30 feet away — to the young woman’s Valley Girl directions over her white-corded iPhone to her family about retrieving her laptop from the dining room table and locating her missing files — while her husband dutifully continued pecking away on his keyboard, oblivious to the 85 decibel narrative next to him.

    Any great horror stories from you and your readers over cell phones in planes or lounges?

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