At last! Use your mobile on a plane

Virgin is considering a technology which will allow people to use their mobiles while flying

We'll all be able to use our mobile phones in the air later this year if plans by three of the world's biggest airlines get clearance for take-off. The question is: do you really want to keep in touch with those on terra firma when you're 30,000 feet above the ground?

Traditionally mobile use has been banned on planes due to claims that phone signals interfere with sensitive aircraft equipment. This is because mobiles phones increase their signal strength when they can't find an immediately available local signal as is the case in the air.

Now technology from British company AeroMobile aims to change all that by forcing phones to only give out weak signals which are picked up by a mini mobile network fitted to the aircraft.

AeroMobile's technology has already been adopted by Qantas , Emirates and Ryanair . So it looks like our final chance to go offline is set to disappear.

Certainly RyanAir's ebullient boss Michael O'Leary is unrepentant about the change: "If you want a quiet flight, use another airline. Ryanair is noisy, full and we are always trying to sell you something," according to the Sunday Times .

Both Virgin Atlantic and British Airways (BA) are also said to be considering the technology but both airlines claim that its customers - and their wishes - should have the final say:

"We've asked some of our executive club members if introducing such a service would be a good idea," said a spokesperson. "We're still conducting our surveys but one option that appears to be popular is to allow texts," a BA spokesman said.

Long haul vs short haul

BA went on to draw a distinction between its long haul flights and smaller airline's short flights, claiming its passengers would not appreciate ringtones and chatter while trying to sleep.

Virgin Atlantic has a similar view - considering the opinion of its customers first. A spokesperson told that Virgin was "conducting a watching brief as to how we might introduce this service but at the same time provide it in socially acceptable way."

David Coiley, a spokesman for AeroMobile attempted reassured passengers by saying: "No-one wants to be kept awake all night by irritating ringtones but only a small number of people will be able to make calls at one time. The airlines know their passengers extremely well. They see this as a new service to passengers."