It looks like you’ll have to wait a bit longer to make cellphone calls mid-flight. The Department of Transportation on Monday said it’s still deciding over whether to allow in-flight voice calls in the future, with a report from The Wall Street Journal suggesting the answer will be “no.” A spokeswoman for the DOT said “a notice of proposed rule making” will be published this December, but she declined to share any further information.
The issue doesn’t actually focus on in-flight texting or data; phone use during flights has slowly become accepted over the past several months, but in-flight calling is still considered very disruptive. Let’s be honest: who wants someone yammering in their ear throughout a five hour flight?
Right now there’s debate over who will have the final say about whether voice calling will be given the green light. Wireless carriers feel it should be left up to them, while airlines disagree. The FCC, meanwhile, hasn’t officially given its ruling, though any decision made by the Transportation Department would take precedence. So there’s a major power struggle over your right to call your girlfriend/boyfriend while 35,000 feet above sea level.
When you have texting and access to data, do voice calls even matter? For the most part, it seems like public feedback would prefer not to allow in-flight calling, but there’s always that minority who would like the option. Even if the FCC does agree on lifting a ban on airplane calls, the Transportation Department has already said it would pursue a ban on in-flight calling on consumer-protection grounds.