In this Oct. 31, 2013 file photo, a passenger checks his cell phone while boarding a flight, in Boston.
Matt Slocum/AP

FCC is considering allowing cellphone calls in flight


The Federal Communications Commission announced that it will soon take up a proposal to lift a 22 year old cellphone ban, and allow passengers to make in-flight phone calls.

The proposal comes less than a month after the Federal Aviation Administration expanded the use of electronic devices during all flight phases. Where even glancing at your device would cause panic among the plane’s crew, now one could freely use their phone or tablet on “airplane mode.” The ruling may have paved the way for the recent proposal.

The FCC has said that while phone use would remain restricted during takeoff and landings, the proposed rule change would lift the decades’ old ban, allowing phone calls to be made once the plane reached 10,000 feet.

The telecommunications industry has greeted the proposal with opens arms. In a statement Thursday, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said, “the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules.”

Airline attendants and officials don’t agree.

“Passengers overwhelmingly reject cell phone use in the aircraft cabin. The FCC should not proceed with this proposal,” the Association of Flight Attendants said in a response to the FCC’s consideration. The AFA added, “In far too many operational scenarios, passengers making phone calls could extend beyond a mere nuisance, creating negative effects on aviation safety and security that are great and far too risky.”

One FCC commissioner has remarked on how his inbox is flooded with hundreds of emails against in-flight cellphone use and a petition has already been posted, garnering hundreds of signatures ahead of the FCC’s December 12th meeting to consider the proposed change.

“During flights, passengers are forced into a restricted space, often for long periods of time. Forcing them to listen to the inane, loud, private, personal conversations of a stranger is perhaps the worst idea the FCC has come up with to date,” read the petition.

Were the ban to be lifted, it would be up to each airline to adopt a particular policy.


FCC is considering allowing cellphone calls in flight