The European Commission (EC) has cleared the way for European airlines that want to allow customers the option of sending text messages, making voice calls and using 3G/4G data services while in-flight.

The decision was announced today and follows yesterday’s news that the European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) recommended that electronic devices should be allowed for use during take off and landing.

However, this decision, while similar, runs parallel and actually means that  smartphones, eBook readers and tablets can now be used during flight, but not during take-off and landing, with the major difference being that they won’t have to be in ‘flight mode’.

Before you get too excited about the decision, it’s the airlines that will have the final say in whether they allow passengers to use their devices. A passenger will not have the right to demand to use their smartphone, for example.

The slight contradiction with yesterday’s EASA recommendations comes as the EC ruling means that the services can only be used when airborne and above 3,000 metres, around 10,000 feet. The EASA plans to give its final recommendations on the use of devices during take off and landing by the end of November.

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