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Bad reception awaits in-flight phones

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In-flight communications are currently limited to costly satellite phones.

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(CNN) -- From crying babies to low-quality catering, flying is full of irritations, but these may all soon be eclipsed by the introduction of in-flight cell phones.

A new survey has found that the majority of business travelers are opposed to allowing cell phone use on board aircraft, doubtless quaking at the prospect of a red-eye ruined by ring tones and chatter.

Until now, most airlines have outlawed phone use, claiming possible interference with aircraft electronics.

The ban also prevents onboard cell phones disrupting communications on the ground as they sweep through regionalized networks at high speed.

But all this is set to change from December 2006, following revisions by U.S. federal regulators.

Soon, flights will be able to carry an onboard transmitter that will link the aircraft to satellites, allowing passengers to use their mobile phones as normal.

But, according to a study by Carlson Wagonlit Travel, which quizzed 2,100 business travelers and 650 travel managers, most are unlikely to welcome the phones.

"If airlines are listening to their most frequent travelers, they may want to shelve any thought of allowing cell phone use during flight," says CWT's Business Travel Indicator survey.

"Whether they are hesitant to give up their 'alone time' or they simply don't want to put up with noisy flights, 61 percent of business travelers surveyed said they are not in favor of allowing people to talk on cell phones in-flight."

The survey said Europeans are most intolerant of cell phone use with 70 percent responding unfavorably. North Americans appear marginally more open to the idea, with 57 percent in opposition.

Currently, according to the survey, the biggest annoyances for air passengers are queuing for airport security checks -- a top complaint for 25 percent of business travelers -- and flight delays at 24 percent.

The survey did, however, offer a rosy outlook for 2006, with almost 60 percent of travel managers predicting a hike in travel budgets in the coming year with more travel in the cards.

Queuing gripes

"Business travel is increasing," said Hubert Joly, president and chief executive officer of CWT. "This is a reflection of strong economic growth around the world and the globalization of the economy and corporations."

Despite the queuing gripes of business travelers, another recent survey indicates that road warriors are unwilling to compromise on safety but believe the process can be speeded up.

The study by the American Small Business Travelers Alliance showed that 55 percent of passengers did not feel adequately protected by airport security measures, although this has not stopped an increase in trip frequency.

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