bmi has become the first British carrier to offer its passengers an inflight communications service.

The airline will allow the use of SMS-enabled mobile phones and PDAs as well as access to the Internet and email from laptops fitted with GSM data cards.

This means passengers will be able to keep in touch via text, and carry on working online or via email but what's notable is that bmi is not trialling voice calls, so worries about being stuck next to a fellow traveller jabbering on their mobile for hours will not yet be realised.

The service, supplied by OnAir, is being trialled for six months on a single Airbus A320 aircraft operating between Heathrow and Moscow.

Peter Spencer, managing director of bmi notes that "etiquette issues" are yet to be explored, stating:

“The trial will help us address some of the social and etiquette issues regarding the use of mobile communications devices inflight and provide valuable customer feedback which will be at the heart of deciding how the service is developed and rolled out across the remainder of our mid haul fleet. We have chosen not to implement the voice call option as part of the trial”.