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U.S. Department of Transportation to Pursue Ban on In-Flight Cell Phone Calls

dotsealThe United States Department of Transportation has plans to pursue a ban on in-flight phone calls, reports The Wall Street Journal. In a speech last week at the International Aviation Club, general counsel of the Department Kathryn Thompson suggested restrictions were in the works, and a DOT spokesperson later confirmed the plans.
A spokeswoman confirmed that the DOT is developing "a notice of proposed rulemaking" for publication in December. "At this point, there is no final determination" as to what the notice or the final rule will say, said another spokeswoman.
The Department of Transportation's move to pursue a ban on in-flight cellular phone calls follows an FCC proposal to overturn the current restrictions that prevent airline passengers from making phone calls and using cellular data while in flight.

The existing rules state that all cellular telephones on board an aircraft must be turned off when an aircraft leaves the ground in order to keep them from interfering with ground networks, but the FCC no longer believes in-flight interference is an issue. In 2013, the FCC officially relaxed its restrictions on the use of portable electronics in flight, allowing them to be used during landing and takeoff while in Airplane Mode.

After the FCC suggested it might permit cellular phone usage in flight, the Department of Transportation, airlines, and several other consumer groups expressed concern over the disruption voice calls could introduce if permitted in flight. Though airlines have largely been against in-flight cell phone calls, they believe the final decision on in-flight calls should be left up to them rather than in government control.
"Airlines aren't clamoring to allow mobile-phone use during flight, and some have already said they'd prohibit it on their own flights," said Jeffrey Shane, general counsel for the International Air Transport Association, and a former senior Transportation Department policy maker. But Mr. Shane said some carriers may want to explore passenger-friendly ways to introduce calls, such as in-flight phone booths or quiet zones.
The FCC is continuing to investigate the safety of allowing cell phone service on planes, and a ban on voice calls from the Department of Transportation, which supersedes any FCC decision, may result in a situation where customers are permitted to use cellular data in-flight for texting and web browsing but are banned from making voice calls. The Department of Transportation is expected to release more information on a potential ban in December.

Note: Due to the political nature of the discussion regarding this topic, the discussion thread is located in our Politics, Religion, Social Issues forum. All forum members and site visitors are welcome to read and follow the thread, but posting is limited to forum members with at least 100 posts.

Top Rated Comments

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13 weeks ago
It is already too loud on an airplane, we don't need people loudly shouting into their phones as well.
Rating: 57 Votes
13 weeks ago
For the sake of my and everyone else's sanity, I pray this ban goes through. LOL.
Rating: 39 Votes
13 weeks ago

It is already too loud on an airplane, we don't need people loudly shouting into their phones as well.


Can you imagine…? Sitting next to a bunch of teenagers or snooty business peple yapping into their cell phones for an entire flight??? NO THANKS! At least I listen to music, but it would still be very annoying. :eek:
Rating: 27 Votes
13 weeks ago
I can understand the DOT banning phone calls if there was a technical or safety reason. But why should they make a law for people to be courteous? As far as I see it, this is no different than talking on the phone in a theater. Theaters ban phone calls in the theaters not because of law but because it is disrespectful to others. Airlines can (and probably should) do the same thing.
Rating: 17 Votes
13 weeks ago
People that are worried about everyone talking on the phone while in flight is forgetting one critical thing: most cell phones can't reach a tower reliably while cruising.

That means that the airlines would have to put into place their own microcell on the plane to provide reception -- like they do for wifi.

And access to that won't be cheap or free.
Rating: 16 Votes
13 weeks ago
Hey big government, while you are protecting me how about that overweight woman that occupies her seat and half of mine.
Rating: 8 Votes
13 weeks ago
Since when does the FCC or the Department of Transportation have the right to govern bad manners? This is the United States, right? For a minute or two, given the overwhelming attitude in this discussion, I thought we were in China.
Talking on a cell phone in flight is not a safety issue. If the person is yelling, or causing a safety issue, then he should be dealt with. They deal people who shout and otherwise disrupt flights by arresting them, and turning the plane around as necessary. Making or receiving a call on a flight is not a safety issue. It should NOT BE GOVERNED BY LAW.

This stupid law will probably pass, despite my objections, but it's just wrong.

Seriously, let's ban crying babies, seats that don't recline more than 0.25 inches, people who sneeze loudly, kids who kick the seat from behind, people who fill up the overhead bins before I get on the plane leaving me no room at all for my carry on luggage.

If the airlines want to ban calls, that's different. it's their plane, and it's up to them to make flights comfortable for passengers. If they ban cell phone calls, I'm ok with it.
Rating: 6 Votes
13 weeks ago
I would like to take this opportunity to thank my lords at the DOT for knowing better than my lords at the F'nCC, about exactly what is best for me. Don't know what I would do without 'em. :rolleyes:
Rating: 5 Votes
13 weeks ago
I am all for bans on take off and landing.

However what cell phone works 5 miles away from a tower while in a shielded tube. Unless you are walking around with a 50+ dBi antenna it just isn't going to work.

I say leave it up to airlines, maybe they could have a cell phone use sections on the plane like back in the smoking days.
Rating: 5 Votes
13 weeks ago
This is stupid. Y'all are missing the real issue here.

Leave it up to the airlines. We do not need the feds telling us when we can and can not use a cellphone - assuming there is not a technical/safety reason.
Rating: 4 Votes

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