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Phones and tablets OK to fly but airlines won't name a date

Using your phones or tablets throughout a flight has been cleared, but airlines are keeping quiet on when the rules will change.

Phones and tablets have been cleared for takeoff as European watchdogs publish new rules on electronic devices, but airlines are keeping quiet on when we could actually start playing with our gadgets as we take to the skies.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has updated its guidelines, as promised last month. The new rules allow for the use of personal electronic devices such as phones, tablets and ebook readers throughout the flight, including take-off and landing, although they must remain in flight mode.

Currently, electronic devices must be completely turned off during wheels-up and wheels-down, but are allowed while in the air if switched to flight mode. 

It's now down to individual airlines to decide if they're willing to allow you to play with your gadgets as you touch down and lift off.

A spokesperson for the British flying regulator the Civil Aviation Authority told me today the body "will be working with interested UK airlines to facilitate the use of portable electronic devices in flight mode by passengers throughout the entire duration of a flight."

British Airways, which has already lifted the mobile phone ban on landing, says it's "working closely with the UK CAA and hopes to be in a position to announce a relaxation in the rules around the use of handheld electronic devices very soon."

A spokesperson for Virgin Atlantic said much the same, as the airline assesses the situation. Neither airline would be drawn on how soon is soon, however.

The CAA had previously cautioned changes could take months.

Do you welcome phones and tablets in flight, or should gadgets and gizmos stay grounded? Take off to the comments or come in to land on our Facebook page.