Frequent Travelers Dead Set Against In-Flight Phone Use

By Jeremy Del Nero on 6 December 2013
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New Federal Aviation Administration rules have lifted a ban on personal electronic use during taxi, takeoff, and landing.  While phones must remain in airplane mode during these periods, the updated rules have led to the discussion of in-flight phone calls, especially since the FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced a proposal last month to repeal the agency’s ban on in-flight use of mobile phones.  Frequent travelers have come out, somewhat vocally, against this proposed change.

Last month, Frequent Business Traveler and FlyerTalk asked travelers about their thoughts on mobile calls in-flight in a one-question poll: “Should Airline Passengers Be Permitted to Place and Receive Phone Calls During a Flight?”.  The poll garnered 1,101 responses, and 90% of respondents said that that mobile calls should not be permitted in the air.

A discussion on FlyerTalk resulted in many responses indicating adamant opposition.  One of the posters, winkdaddy, insisted that “allowing cell phones would be a disaster…way too many terrible people would ruin it for everyone by having a conversation over 30 seconds, or talking above a whisper.”

Kevin DTW, another FlyerTalk member, agreed and emphasized that an aircraft cabin should be a safe haven free from the disruption of phone calls. “An aircraft,” he wrote, “remains practically the last refuge from having to listen to other people’s cell phone conversations.  There have been many times when I couldn’t wait for the FA’s to tell passengers to turn off their devices so I could get off a call and have a few hours’ peace and quiet.”

Hongkonger put it a little more bluntly, writing this on FlyerTalk: “On a crowded metal tube for several hours with nowhere to go, I do not want DYKWIA jerks talking on their cell phones all around me.”

However, public opposition hasn’t stopped the European Commission, which recently announced that it would begin allowing the use of 3G and 4G mobile devices on board aircraft that are flying over the European Union.  This is evidence that we’re already starting to observe a shift in what’s possible and what’s appropriate when it comes to mobile data in the air.

Despite the strong resistance frequent flyers seem to have to the idea, the decision to allow mobile calling will ultimately be up to the FCC and, if the rule is changed, individual airlines.  Still, the whole proposal brings up concerns about what is appropriate on a communications level.  One perhaps redeeming aspect of flights has been, until very recently, a respite from the noise of media on the ground, if only for a few hours.  Is this a fundamental part of air travel, or will the skies be permeated with cellular use and succumb to the same information overload we’re experiencing on the ground?  Only time will tell.

Bildschirmfoto 2013-12-05 um 20.04

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

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