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Really a matter of time before US airlines allow in flight cell phone use?

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Emirates is now allowing its A380 aircraft passengers to chat on their mobile devices while in the air.iStock

Yet another international carrier is allowing in flight cell phone use. 

The Dubai-based airline carrier Emirates announced Monday that it is allowing its A380 aircraft passengers to talk on their mobile devices while in the air. The first call was made last week by using the airline's Wi-Fi service called OnAir, the company said.

Whether you like it or not, cellphone use is now making its way onto airplanes while in flight.

Besides Emirates, Virgin Atlantic, Thai Airways and Quantas are just a few of a growing number of foreign-based carriers that offer in-flight texting, e-mailing and now in some cases, cellphone talking.

The increase in number of carriers offering these services comes with the advancement of technology that makes in-flight cellphone use easier. Emirates, known as a tech savvy airline, is partnering with OnAir, a company that supplies Wi-Fi capabilities to the airline’s craft. Passengers will be able to make or receive calls using EDGE or GPRS connections through their service provider.

Also the makers of the Boeing 747-8 recently said they were preparing their "Dreamliner" for cellphone use as early as 2013.

But despite this growing trend, passengers still are prohibited to use their phones within 250 miles of the U.S.  That's because the Federal Communications Commission banned in flight cellphone use in 1991 out of concerns about network interference.

Now, some question whether the ban is out of date. A new report from the Federal Aviation Administration showed no problems — with either flight safety or noise complaints — in talking or texting in the air on foreign airlines. 

Even though some aviation experts say new satellite-based technology makes airborne cellphone calls safe, U.S. airlines say that passengers don't want cellphone use on flights.

Historically, polls have backed this up--showing that U.S. passengers oppose allowing cellphone use in flight because they don't want to hear seatmates' noisy calls.

But this summer Fly.com, a fare-comparison site, surveyed 500 travelers and found two-thirds wanted to be able to talk on their phones.

Industry experts say airlines also don't want cellphone use on domestic flights because of the extra cost to install and operate cellphone technology.

"It's not a priority of ours right now," said Mary Frances Fagan, a spokeswoman for American Airlines told the Seattle Times.

The question remains: if U.S. passengers really want these services, will domestic carriers at some point make it a priority?  Clearly the tide is starting to change.  

In August, U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "With so many different types of devices available, we recognize that this is an issue of consumer interest."