U.S. FCC to propose allowing cellphone use on airplanes

“The Federal Communications Commission will propose allowing passengers to use their cellphones on airplanes, people familiar with the matter said,” Ryan Knutson and Gautham Nagesh report for The Wall Street Journal.

“While phone use would still be restricted during takeoff and landing, the proposal would lift an FCC ban on airborne calls and cellular data use by passengers once a flight reaches 10,000 feet, an FCC official said,” Knutson and Gautham Nagesh report. “The move comes just weeks after the Federal Aviation Administration said it would allow expanded use of electronic devices during flights, as technical concerns about the airborne use of gadgets fade.”

“The proposal is scheduled to be discussed at the commission’s December meeting. If implemented, it would then be up to the airlines to decide whether to allow voice calls,” Knutson and Gautham Nagesh report. “When the FCC made a similar proposal in 2004, it received more than 8,000 comments. The FCC dropped the proposal in 2007 amid objections from flight attendants and other groups who said it would be a nuisance.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: If implemented, headphones (to block out the insipid, mindless yammering from the doofus/ditz next to you) are going to be even more of an absolute necessity than they are today.


  1. I have accidentally left my iPad on and not in airplane mode, and was completely unable to get a signal from 30,000 feet. Does it really make sense to allow this when devices cannot connect to cell towers from that height? The weaker the signal, the more battery is used.

    1. Did you know that cell towers are not located homogeneously across the land? Did you know that the cell towers were designed to hand you off to another tower based on the travelling speed of cars and trucks and not aircraft? Did you know that the entire bottom of the aircraft is commonly made out of aluminum and shields you from the towers?

      1. Did you know that many of us frequent fliers have heard cell phones start ringing mid-flight? Did you know that flight attendants are commonly the ones who neglected to turn theirs off?

    2. On 9/11, several calls was made from the flights involved in the attack.

      It has been brought up as questionable these calls ever took place and in light of the current problems to connect with stronger phones and more transmitters on the ground on has to wonder.

    1. That’s not what this is about. They’ve already changed the law to allow electronic devices to be used throughout the entire flight (tablets, laptops, iPods, etc.).

      What’s at question here is whether people should be able to make voice calls during the flight. And the answer should be no. It’s too much of an annoyance for the people around them.

    2. The electronics that the pilots are using have been thoroughly tested. That is why the Delta pilots have to wait a year to use the Windows Surface tablets, because those haven’t gone through the procedure yet.

      I’d be worried about the Android viruses that could be spread during a flight, or 3rd party phones where the company doesn’t care about complying with rules and regulations for electronics.

  2. Just returned from extensive business travel; the glamour of flying is all but gone. Add a load of banal claptrap and you have the ingredients for felonious assault.

  3. Please NO. I can’t imagine sitting next to a person in such a tight space talking on their cell phone. For some, this would be fine as they can talk quietly, but there are many who talk twice as loud into the phone as they would to the person sitting next to them.

    1. In fairness, much to my annoyance (because sometimes speaking is much quicker), within the last few years I find that people text more often than they call. Perhaps that will happen on the plane as well?

      1. I average 5 to 6 flights per year. It’s bad enough that you are shoehorned into the plane like sardines. Flying in and out of LAX is bad enough. When possible I use Bob Hope. It’s 10 minutes away and it is a hidden gem. Small, efficient and friendly. No parking problems. Drop off and pick up is fast. Couldn’t be easier. Check-in at Bob Hope is quick and easy. It’s a 10 minute ride from my house rather than a 45 minute to two hour adventure going to LAX. Flying is not what it used to be. Obviously. But I manage.I feel sorry for those who have to fly constantly. But the thought of having 100 people on their cell phones in an already unbelievably noisy environment for hours is unimaginable! There is no where to go to hide. Step outside? Jeez, tell me this isn’t going to really happen!

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