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Mobile phones on flights 'unbearable'

Use of mobile phones on planes a giant leap backwards for airlines, majority of readers believe.

Allowing passengers to use mobile phones on flights will be "unbearable", the majority of respondents to the latest ArabianBusiness.com spot poll have said.

Concerned about being constantly distracted by annoying ringtones and people endlessly chatting away, just over half of those surveyed said the use of mobile phones on planes was a giant leap backwards for airlines, one of the few places left in society where the devices are banned.

But not any more. Dubai-owned airline Emirates last week became the first carrier in the world to launch an inflight mobile telephone service, and plans to fit its entire fleet with the system.

Emirates said passengers would be restricted to making a maximum of five or six calls during a flight, and cabin crew were able to control the system and block voice calls at certain times, such as during night flights.

This may ease some fears over the prospect of a 14 hours flight from Dubai to New York in a plane along with 300 other passengers, all armed with mobile phones.

Not everyone thought the use of mobile phones on planes was a bad idea. Almost half of those surveyed welcomed the move, stating that it would be good for the airline industry and passengers.

Just under 30% said airlines should allow passengers to use mobile phones, but cautioned that usage should be kept to specific areas of a plane and made expensive to limit use.

Nearly 20% whole-heartedly backed the move, stating that air travel was part of modern business life and people should be reachable wherever they are.

The results of the ArabianBusiness.com poll contrast to findings from a survey conducted in November by market research firm YouGovSiraj.

YouGovSiraj found that nearly half of all regional business (47%) and leisure (43%) travellers wanted the freedom to use their mobile phones on board, with less than 20% preferring to keep them turned off.

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