Switch off your mobile phone when you are on a flight, or take on towering roaming costs

Tourists who forget to turn off their mobile phone while traveling by air or by sea are at risk of being hit by accidental roaming charges & # 39;

Roaming costs apply to mobile phones or tablets that are used abroad. In recent years these costs have been capped to avoid high bills, but such price restrictions do not apply to satellite systems in aircraft and boats.

If a smartphone picks up a signal from its own onboard system, the traveler can incur mobile roaming costs of several pounds per megabyte – the data needed to view just one web page.

Roaming costs: price restrictions do not apply to satellite systems in aircraft and boats

Roaming costs: price restrictions do not apply to satellite systems in aircraft and boats

Roaming costs: price restrictions do not apply to satellite systems in aircraft and boats

This can happen even if a passenger does not actively use his phone. Smartphone apps can be updated in the background while eating data in the process. The phone only needs to be turned on if data roaming is enabled to cause costs.

Airlines and cruise ships are under pressure to provide 24-hour access to telephone and internet, which means that & # 39; bill shock & # 39; accidental roaming can become a bigger problem.

On-board satellite systems are premium services whose prices are similar and do not fall under the same roaming caps that exist on land.

A passenger who flew from Ireland to the US last month learned the costly lesson the hard way.

He forgot to turn off his mobile during the flight and left it behind in the luggage compartment over the head. It automatically connected to the airline's onboard system, which means that more than £ 200 is charged from its mobile network at home.

Caught? Here you can read how you can challenge costs

Unresolved complaints between mobile networks and customers are handled by Ombudsman Services. It states that cases of inadvertent roaming in the air and at sea are rare, but do not show up – usually by boat.

Jonathan Lenton, the communications ombudsman, says: "We have seen such cases, but there is quite a bit of consumer protection with regard to roaming. If the accusations were within the EU, they could be challenged. & # 39;

Rules also stipulate that when traveling outside the EU there must be a € 50 (£ 45) limit on data usage unless a customer has opted out. A welcome text explaining the costs should also be received when someone from the UK enters a new country. If these conditions are not met, there may be grounds for canceling fees.

Lenton adds: "If the use was made outside the EU, the customer decided to close the automatic data protection and receive a text, they are liable for the resulting costs."

Major British mobile networks say that the easiest way to avoid roaming costs in the air and at sea is to put a phone in flight mode, switch off data roaming or switch off the phone. The companies also say that they can not prevent a telephone from connecting to an available signal when the phone is switched on for this purpose.

Anyone who wants to dispute a roaming charge must first discuss the problem with his mobile provider. If the company does not agree or refuses to help, the complaint can be referred to Ombudsman Services for free.

Visit ombudsman-services.org/communications or call 0330 440 1614.

Ferry passengers have been caught at hefty amounts of hundreds of euros when their mobile devices are automatically connected to the onboard system, even when they sail past European countries where networks do not charge extra for roaming.

Many passengers probably switch their mobile to take pictures during a cruise, which means they can be caught in spite of the fact that they do not actively use their phones to surf the Internet. An internet internet service is AeroMobile. If a phone is switched on and data roaming is turned on, it can pick up the signal.

If the network provider has an agreement with AeroMobile, a customer can pay for each use during the flight.

Vodafone charges up to £ 7.20 per megabyte of data for connections with airlines. Three mobile phone costs £ 6 per megabyte. EE customers can purchase a data add-on for aircraft – for £ 36 per day for just five megabytes. Some systems require a separate payment and login procedure, which protects customers against automatic connections and resulting invoices.

But those who charge extra should contact their mobile provider to ensure that the costs are valid – because administrative blunders may arise.

Customers may be charged roaming charges when their phones connect to a signal from a network in a nearby country – even if they are thousands of meters above the coast or miles off the coast. If that country is in the EU, there can be no extra costs.

Double checking proved worthwhile for Alexandra Lucas, who was prepared this month to include a substantial bill for a small amount of data used in December.

Alexandra, who is in his thirties and lives in Surrey, refreshed a social media account on her smartphone during a flight to New York for a long weekend. As a result, it had charged £ 40 in roaming costs in Norwegian airspace for a short period.

She says: & # 39; I did it without thinking. When I saw the bill, I found it strange that I had to pay for mobile roaming in Scandinavia when I was driving from London to New York.

• But I understand that it was my fault to use the phone on board an airplane – and it was an expensive mistake that I will not repeat. & # 39; The £ 40 cost eight megabytes of data usage in Norway – the equivalent of nearly one minute of using a smartphone app.

By way of comparison, in New York she used up to ten times more data every day and half of the sum was billed – for £ 20 – for the entire trip in the US.

The Mail on Sunday encouraged Alexandra to challenge the indictment – on the grounds that Norway is in the European Economic Area and the data used should come from her normal monthly allowance under & # 39; wander as home & # 39; ; rules.

Since June 2017, these rules have allowed British tourists to pay the same for telephone calls abroad, as they would do at home during their travels in the European Economic Area – including Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.

Alexandra's network agreed and paid the £ 40 back.