Oy. As if flying isn’t annoying enough. Seems several flights from Branson’s Virgin Atlantic will soon be filled with the sounds of calling. The airline is outfitting several planes with onboard equipment that will enable in-air mobile calls, texts and web surfing.

Those of us in the U.S. will be spared though, thanks to a federal law outlawing airborne cellular calls and SMS within 250 miles of American airspace. The change, however, will affect U.K. travelers on certain Virgin aircraft. So far, only O2 or Vodafone customers will be able to place calls, and roaming charges, of course, will apply at £1/minute. (Texts will be 20p per message.)

The new system — basically akin to a roving, airborne cell tower — features picocell technology provided by AeroMobile, and the vendor states that it doesn’t interfere with aircraft avionics. I hope not. Virgin Atlantic wants to rig as many as 20 jets with it by the end of 2012.

To start, the system will only be able to handle about 10 simultaneous calls, which at least puts a cap on the in-cabin hubbub. But still — if you’re planning to fly Virgin into, from or through the United Kingdom, you’ll want to remember to pack those noise-canceling headphones.

[via The Daily Mail]