Two more European airlines clear smartphones for take-off - just leave the laptop off for now

More of Europe's airlines now allow smartphones in airplane mode to be used from gate to gate.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Spanish airlines Vueling and Iberia have given the go-ahead for passengers to use their smart devices during take-off.

The two airlines announced changes to the rules governing the use of electronic equipment on Monday, approving the use of smaller portable devices during all phases of the flight as long as they're in airplane mode. Laptops, however, are not permitted during taxiing, take-off, and landing.

"Starting today the use of electronic devices during all phases of flight will be possible onboard of all Vueling aircraft," Vueling said in a statement.

Both airlines, which are part of the International Airlines Group (IAG), said in statements yesterday that they had received approval from Europe's Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Iberia also announced it would be the first airline in Spain to offer wi-fi and GSM connectivity onboard. Iberia currently has 13 airliners fitted with equipment to provide internet access on board and will gradually launch the service for all long-haul flights.

EASA announced last November that it would introduce new guidance that confirmed devices in non-transmitting mode were not a safety risk, which took the onus off airlines to prove that they weren't a risk and effectively made it simpler for them to approve their use during all stages on board an aircraft.

Clearance for use of smart devices on airplanes in Europe hasn't happened evenly across the continent since EASA left it up to each airline to determine when to implement the new guidelines.

Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) immediately approved the use of smart devices following EASA's December 10 release of the new guidelines.

British Airways, also part of IAG, shortly afterwards cleared passengers to do the same on its aircraft.

Lufthansa announced in February approval from the German Federal Aviation Authority to allow passengers from March onwards to use their smartphones, tablets, notebooks, and other electronic devices uninterrupted on all Airbus aircraft.

It had previously allowed passengers to use the devices in flight mode on Boeing 747-8s from gate to gate. In total, it has been cleared for smartphone use at all stages of flight across 250 aircraft.   

Europe's policy shift followed a similar move by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which began allowing consumers to use electronic devices at all points during a flight, subject to individual airline rules.

Similarly, any device that transfers data still needs to be in 'airplane mode' — transmissions over cellular networks, regulated by the FCC, are still prohibited while in flight.

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