Airlines in No Rush to Allow Cellphone Use in the Air
(WASHINGTON) -- The Federal Communications Commission will consider a change to the restrictions on cellular phone calls during flights, it announced Thursday. But those worried about being awakened from their nap at 30,000 feet by a gabbing neighbor might not have much to fear yet. The decision could take a year, and even then it will be up to the airlines to decide whether to permit calling.
And many airlines have already expressed apprehension about the idea of turning on the ringers in the sky. "Our initial customer feedback indicates people may not want the current FCC policy to change," JetBlue said in a statement to ABC News.
United Airlines echoed the same thoughts. "Our customers have expressed concern about how the use of cellphones in-flight will impact their experience onboard," the company said in a statement. "When the FCC makes a proposal available, we will study it along with feedback from customers and crews."
Delta released a similar statement last month when the Federal Aviation Administration announced that some gadgets, including tablets and e-readers, could be used before and during takeoff and landing if set on Airplane Mode.
"Delta has years of customer feedback on the impact on the customer experience and voice communications and the overwhelming sentiment is to continue with a policy that would not allow voice communications while in flight," it said.
Airlines have long been sensitive to the idea that passengers don't like to hear conversations around them. On flights equipped with wireless networks, Internet calls using services like Skype or Google Talk or Apple's FaceTime are restricted not because of technical issues but because airlines prefer to maintain a quiet environment for passengers.
If approved, however, airlines might be willing to make some accommodations for those who would like the option to talk on the phone, similar to what Amtrak has done with its "Quiet Cars" on its trains.
"If the FCC's new policy does go into effect, we would prioritize making the cabin comfortable and welcoming for all -- for those who want cell service and for those who like peace and quiet," JetBlue said.
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