Which? uses cookies to improve our sites and by continuing you agree to our cookies policy

Mobile phones to be allowed on UK flights

We reveal the UK airline to allow phones

A close-up of a young woman using her mobile phone.

You could be sitting next to someone using their mobile phone on your next flight.

And if the prospect of hearing ‘I’m on a plane’ for three hours fills you with dread, you’re not alone.

BMI – the first UK airline to install technology that allows passengers to use their mobile phone during a flight – is set to begin its trial soon. BMI will allow only text messages, however, which will cost about 39p each.


Other UK airlines, such as British Airways and Virgin Atlantic, are waiting and watching before they decide whether to allow mobile use, but Ryanair is also set to start a trial soon, offering calls and texts.

To help inform the debate, we asked 1,000 people for their views. In our poll, only 30% thought it was a good idea and 27% were indifferent.

A sizeable 67% said they would find it annoying if fellow passengers used a mobile during a flight.And 79% thought that if it were allowed, it should be banned at night.

Despite these figures, 40% said that if it were allowed, they’d be likely to use their phone to call or text.


For our online poll, carried out in June, we also asked those who’d flown in the past 12 months what were the biggest annoyances on flights. 

Your top 10 irritations on board
Irritation Percentage of people
People kicking your seat 81% 81%
Seat comfort/leg room 78% 78%
People putting seats back 74% 74%
Drunk or rude passengers 60% 60%
Children who are noisy/running around 54% 54%
Noisy passengers 52% 52%
Noise from headphones 26% 26%
Mobile phone noise 21% 21%
Lights on when sleeping 18% 18%
Amount of overhead storage 15% 15%

Table notes

Based on responses (477) of people who’d flown in the past 12 months

The biggest gripe – for 81% – was the passenger behind kicking your seat; 78% cited seat comfort and leg room and 74% hated the person in front putting their seat back.

Drunk or rude passengers were also a big issue, as was noise. This included mobile phone noise, since some airlines, such as Air France, have been trialling the service for months.

Air France

Air France says passengers are billed by their usual operator and rates are comparable to roaming charges for calls from abroad.

The European Commission will monitor charges and the information about them that’s given to passengers.

Back to top