Allowing cell phone call on flights is reportedly being considered by the Department of Transportation.
Some people’s worst nightmare is sitting next to the salesman who loves the sound of his voice on a four-hour cross country airplane ride, but according to an article in the Wall Street Journal, it could get even worse.
It seems federal aviation officials are considering allowing people to make cell phone calls while in flight, a move that certainly will be controversial. The decision is likely years away at this point, and could very well be left to the individual carriers to decide if they will provide the service.
Cellular calls on public transportation are not new, as they are allowed on most other forms of moving crowds of people, but the already confined space of an airliner may present issues not faced by other common carriers.
The Department of Transportation (DOT) will probably call for public comments before attempting to craft a rule for the communications, and one would expect a lot of negative comments, along with positive feedback from those who view the opportunity to use the wasted travel time to their advantage. According to the article, the DOT actually began seeking input from the public as much as two years ago, and the agency noted a majority of the commenters were opposed to the idea.
Technically, the calls on some airline flights are possible currently, through Wi-Fi services provided by some carriers, but federal restrictions do not at this time allow such calls to be made. Advances in the technology will most certainly make the process more efficient and convenient to travelers.
Of course, the possibility of in-flight disagreements may arise from cell phone users disturbing other passengers with their calls. The airlines may consider that too great a risk of having to deal with flight disruptions and arguments between those seated nearby callers. Some worry that during an emergency, passengers would be using their phones instead of listening to on-board announcements and directions by flight attendants.
Likely, should such calls be allowed, the DOT will require airlines to inform potential passengers of the practice well before boarding the plane, perhaps even at the time of ticket purchase, in case they would prefer to take a flight that did not provide the service.
However, the in-flight calling could be seen as a potential revenue stream for airlines, and could impact the bottom line.