EU Allows Cell Phone Use in Planes

BRUSSELS -- The European Union on Monday opened the way for air travelers to use mobile phones to talk, text or send e-mails on planes throughout Europe's airspace.

With the EU approval, airlines will now be able to offer onboard service for cell phones that use the European GSM technology later this year. The United States and many other countries still ban the use of cellular phones and other mobile devices in the air because of concern they could disrupt a plane's instruments.

Viviane Reding, the EU's telecommunications commissioner, warned phone operators not to set rates for the service too high and urged airlines to protect passengers from excessive phone use.

The European Commission, the EU's executive body, said it would keep a close eye to ensure that pricing is transparent.

The EU also urged airlines to set in-flight etiquette and ensure a balance between those wanting to make calls and others who want a few hours of quiet-time during a flight.