FCC keeps ban on passengers making in-flight calls


Posts: 6,286   +53
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What just happened? Cramped conditions, screaming babies, the threat of Covid-19, there are plenty of things that can make traveling by plane stressful, and seven years ago, the FCC said it would consider adding another to the list: allowing passengers to make in-flight cell phone calls. Thankfully, a decision has finally been reached, and it's a resounding no.

Way back on December 12, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission said it would consider changing the rules regarding the use of cell phones during airline flights, allowing calls once a plane climbed over 10,000 feet. It's taken a while, but the FCC has finally "terminated a proceeding to consider" lifting the ban.

Not too surprisingly, the prospect of a cabin full of passengers talking loudly on their phones wasn't welcomed by pilots and the Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), a union that represents airline workers.

"Flight attendants, as first responders and the last line of defense in our nation's aviation system, understand the importance of maintaining a calm cabin environment," the union said in a 2013 statement. "Any situation that is loud, divisive and possibly disruptive is not only unwelcome but also unsafe."

The FCC acknowledged the concerns, referencing comments filed by the APFA. In a statement (via Core77), the agency wrote: "There is strong opposition to the Commission's proposals from many commenters in this proceeding, including our nation's airline pilots and flight attendants, who argue that it 'fail[s] to address significant safety and national security concerns.'"

The APFA also added some common sense logic: "Just because something is technically feasible does not automatically mean it should be considered for public policy." Or, in the words of Dr. Ian Malcolm, "Just because you can, doesn't mean you should."

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Uncle Al

Posts: 7,748   +6,376
For years the concern was RF and similar interference on the aircraft instruments by phones. I experienced this myself on my twin engine Beechcraft a couple of times until I upgraded the avionics to include much better shielding but now days this isn't a problem for modern avionics ...... but I must say I've never experienced an entire plane yacking away on their phones ..... has to be a lot like sitting on the old floor of the NY Stock Exchange!


Posts: 4,038   +4,130
I recently was waiting at an ATM while a woman in front of me was on the phone talking to someone and having a spirited conversation to the point where what should have been a one minute transaction turned in to damn near five. I stood there and watched her without saying anything wondering if she would acknowledge the fact that I was standing there staring at her pulling money out of her account as a signal to hurry up. I had my face mask on and my dark sunglasses and you think that considering I stood twice as tall as her I’d be intimidating. She just went right on yapping on the phone.

I honestly don’t believe that modern cell phones cause enough interference to in anyway interfere with an airplanes avionics. Even when I go flying myself I have never had to turn off my camera with making a video of piloting a small aircraft. What this is about is control and getting people to pay attention. If you don’t listen to the safety briefing it does you no good in the event of water landing or a crash Landing.

Same thing goes for gas stations. I think it is virtually impossible for a cell phone to in any way ignite gasoline. Unless someone does so intentionally.

I just want you to hurry up and get your gas and leave.


Posts: 1,340   +1,214
"Flight attendants...understand the importance of maintaining a calm cabin environment ... any situation that is loud, divisive and possibly disruptive is not only unwelcome but also unsafe."
Stuff and nonsense. People talk loudly on phones on trains and buses, and, in the latter case, the potential of an accident is far higher, and the driver is far more impacted by cabin noise levels than is the pilot of a commercial airliner.

It would be refreshing, albeit surprising, if the unions were honest and simply stated that they want this ban simply because it makes their jobs easier and more pleasant to perform.
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Posts: 3,317   +2,061
GOOD! Cell phones have become a license for annoying, rude and dangerous (while driving a car) behavior as is. I don't need to be trapped in a plane for hours listening to some simpleton talk about meaningless drivel as if they were saving the world.
Was gonna say people don't talk on their cell phones anymore but then pictured an airplane full of people face timing. A much scarier nightmare


Posts: 14   +17
Are there really that many life-or-death situations that find that somebody needs to make a call on an airplane? At worst case it's five hours from LA to NY. Can you really not last that long without yapping on your phone?

In a real I'm-flying-to-grandma's-deathbed situation I'm sure the cabin crew would find some way to accommodate you if you asked.


Posts: 50   +7
I wonder if your smartphone even works on the airplane? As it was made to work on the ground with radio tower site every mile.