A few airlines are trialling picocells with their own uplink (usually via satellite). Sounds like that Virgin plane was one of them. If I remember correctly, the real technical barrier to using phones on aircraft is not interference but the speed at which the phone will hop between ground-based cell towers.
Also when I was visiting a hospital in-patient ward a few weeks ago, there were still signs on the door saying 'Turn of mobiles' but most of the patients had a mobile and when we actually asked the staff they said it was fine on that ward. I think they are a bit stricter in intensive care.
LOL! You get a welcome to Afghanistan text! I must witness this :P
According to people who work with an industry working group that the Federal Aviation Administration set up last year to study the use of portable electronics on planes, the agency hopes to announce by the end of this year that it will relax the rules for reading devices during takeoff and landing. The change would not include cellphones.
Last year, the agency announced that an industry working group would study the issue. The group, which first met in January, comprises people from various industries, including Amazon, the Consumer Electronics Association, Boeing, the Association of Flight Attendants, the Federal Communications Commission and aircraft makers.
I saw a BBC thingy a while back about the whole 'do not use anything during take off/landing' and they deduced that mobile devices couldn't kick out enough of anything to interfere with cockpit equipment.
The thing that they did say though (and I agree) that the take off/landing is when the plane is at its most venerable and if something were to go wrong surely the passengers should be ready to react and not fiddling with their mobiles/headsets.
The only place to worry about in hospitals is like intensive care wards, heart units, anywhere where there is lots of critical equipment, on a general ward you will be fine same with GP surgeries you will be fine. The ones that panic are the clueless ones.
Don't forget to make a whole big thing about owning an iPad when on the plane. Make sure you wave it around and say something really loud like " I AM NOW GOING TO GET MY iPAD OUT AND WATCH A FILM ON MY iPAD, YES MY iPAD, ITS GREAT THE iPAD, YOU CAN WATCH FILMS ON THE iPAD "