FCC keeps ban on passengers making in-flight calls

Technology

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.”