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Think you hate flying now?

24 Nov, 2013

As you’ve probably read by now, the FCC is considering allowing cellular voice on airplanes – after the plane reaches 10,000 feet. If you’re stuck next to a loud phone talker, 10,000 feet might not seem like too far to jump.

In 2007, the FCC considered – and rejected – allowing cell phone use, but new FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler thinks we must change with the times. In a statement, he said that “... advances in technology likely no longer warrant – on a technological basis – the prohibition of in-flight phone use with the appropriate on-board equipment” Although he added, “We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes,” Wheeler said that ultimately the airlines would make the decision. In the meantime, the rulemaking procedure on the subject will begin at the FCC meeting December 12.

However, if the early comments are any indication, this rule change is not a runaway success. Besides numerous media columns on the subject, the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), the world's largest union of flight attendants, said very clearly, no:

“Any situation that is loud, divisive, and possibly disruptive is not only unwelcome but also unsafe. Many polls and surveys conducted over the years find that a vast majority of the traveling public wants to keep the ban on voice calls in the aircraft cabin.”

It’s true that people can use cell phones on trains, but as AFA President Veda Shook – a 21 year veteran flight attendant – said, “On an airplane, there's no such thing as a quiet car. It's a confined metal tube thousands of feet in the air. It would be no different from having a smoking section on a small plane.”

We agree.

If you want to know what the rules are right now, click here.

Chairman Tom Wheeler On FCC In-Flight Mobile Wireless Services Proposal (FCC news release, Nov. 22, 2013)

Flight Attendant Union Opposes In-Flight Cell Phone Use (AFA news release, Nov. 21, 2013)

FCC considers lifting cell phone ban on planes (CNET, Nov. 21, 2013)

Everything you need to know about in-flight cellphone rules (Washington Post, Nov. 21, 2013)

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