It has been announced that European airlines will soon be granted the power to allow customers to use their communication devices whilst the plane is in flight.

The European Commission made the ultimate decision, which will allow travellers to use both their smartphones and their tablets.

Until this point, it has only been permitted to use 2G in aircraft flying over the EU area. This has meant that more modern tasks, such as downloading ebooks and watching videos, were largely impossible.

The new rules will mean that each airline has the choice as to whether 3G or 4G can be used in flight, although passengers do not have the right to request access in the case of any airlines that choose not to provide the service.

European Commission spokesperson Ryan Heath said: “This EU decision gives airlines the opportunity to allow their customers to use their smartphones and tablets in flight. We’re saying there is no reason why passengers should be prevented from using their mobiles and their tablets during flights (when the plane is above 3,000m). Airlines remain in charge about whether they allow this during their flights or not.”

This obviously represents great news for European business travellers, who will welcome the possibility of being able to get some work done on the move; previous speeds would have made it more or less impossible to get a decent connection to the web. The news will also be a positive for those not happy with the in-flight film: 4G networks are more than capable of streaming movies from the web.