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BA eases curbs on handheld devices during take-off

British Airways' Airbus A380 arrives at a hanger after landing at Heathrow airport in London July 4, 2013. REUTERS/Paul Hackett
British Airways' Airbus A380 arrives at a hanger after landing at Heathrow airport in London July 4, 2013. REUTERS/Paul Hackett

LONDON (Reuters) - British Airways is to become the first airline in Europe to allow their passengers to keep their phones and tablet computers switched on throughout their journey, the company said on Wednesday.

Although travelers will still not be allowed to text or make phone calls, the agreement with Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) lifts the current restrictions that require devices to be turned off until the aircraft is airborne and again when the aircraft is about to land.

Customers will, however, still have to put devices into "flight safe" mode, which disables texts, phonecalls and network access, the airline said. Wednesday's changes do not include laptops.

Earlier this month the European Aviation Safety Agency said airlines would be able to introduce such changes subject to their own assessments.

"We know that our customers want to use their handheld electronic devices more, so this will be very welcome news for them," said Captain Ian Pringle, flight training manager at British Airways.

"The easing of restrictions will provide an average of 30 minutes additional personal screen time."

Business travelers on BA's flights between London's City Airport and New York can already send texts and access WiFi.

The changes will come in on December 19.

(Reporting By Freya Berry; Editing by Greg Mahlich)

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