In-flight phone calls likely won't happen with proposed new U.S. rules

In-flight phone calls likely won't happen with proposed new U.S. rules
By Chuong H Nguyen on 4 Aug 2014 02:47 pm EDT

The United States Department of Transportation is getting closer to establishing formal rules on whether or not to allow in-flight communications, including receiving and placing phone calls while on a plane. Likely, according to reports, that decision would be no, meaning that passengers would continue to be barred from placing or receiving phone calls while they are in transit.

"The Department of Transportation plans to pursue the next step in what could lead to a formal ban on in-flight calls, the agency's general counsel Kathryn Thomson said in a speech last week," the Journal reported.

The DoT is developing a notice of proposed rulemaking and would open the issue up for further comments until February before a final ruling is made.

Late last year, the FCC, another government agency, was considering reversing rules that would bar in-flight phone use. The FCC views that the several decade-long ban on in-flight cell phone use established to prevent interference with radio equipment is now no longer relevant. Despite the softening approach by the FCC, those rules if ever approved, would fall behind the DoT's regulations as the DoT rules would take precedent.

The controversial DoT move is being opposed by the airline and wireless industry with airlines wanting to make the decision themselves and the Telecommunications Industry Association saying that the DoT doesn't need to interfere.

Source: Wall Street Journal

Reader comments

In-flight phone calls likely won't happen with proposed new U.S. rules


I hope not... its hard enough flying. I don't need the guy next to me behind me and in front of me chatting away. Hope they keep a ban on phone calls. But let the Wifi FREEE lol

Posted Via This Thing They Call The BlackBerry Z30

Amen. If I'm in a flight I want to read, watch the movie or sleep/relax. I don't need the guy next to me talking away on the phone.

Posted via CB10

It's bad enough with people pulling out their phones once the plane has barely landed to inform someone that the plane just landed. SMH

Posted via CB10

They'd have to clarify whether they mean a traditional cellular call or any voice/VoIP application or communication in general.

 BlackBerry? I premdict the future's gonna be chenomenal! 

Why does it matter? The majority of people don't want to be disturbed by idiots talking away on their phones in a plane. Can you imagine the noise created when a bunch of people get on their phones & the stress it will cause people if calls are allowed in flight? Flying is stressful enough already. I don't even need to mention the jerk offs that can't seem to speak just loud enough to be heard. We all know someone that just has to practically yell what they want to say.

Posted with my T-Mobile USA  Q10 via CB10.

negative, wifi on planes does not allow VOIP … BBM works, iMessage works, Skype will work but you can not use the VOIP portion of it… Pretty sure tho, that calling on a plane is pointless, since at 30,000 feet you aint getting no signal anyway!!!! #justsayin

Right. Since when did we ever get reception up there?
They should allow text messaging over wifi.

Z10STL100-3/ CB10

This is what they are referring to as an in flight call. You can't make conventional calls at altitude even of they did allow at as you are out of range from tower at 30,000 feet. I've tried it several times either by accident or to test. No workie!

Most wifi on planes block out all the regular voips (and Netflix but not TV portal) but I have had bbm voice and video work as recently as 2 weeks ago on a flight in the US. I think the airlines wifi carrier and IT aren't aware bbm does voips.

Posted via CB10

Those old GTE Airfones were really expensive to use. There was a call fee and it was $5/minute so they rarely got any use.

 Proud BB10 user. The best kept secret in mobile 

In my experience GoGo and other in flight wifi services block skype and the like, but BBM voice seems to have evaded their grasp. Another reason to love my BlackBerry.

If I have to endure a three hour, "OMG, Gurl...Guess what Destiny did today" call, the air marshals will be detaining me regularly.

I wonder if it would apply to wifi calls and texts too? I assume so, but who knows...
I could care less about voice calls (except maybe in an emergency), but texting or BBMing in flight would really come in handy...

Amen! I'd love to still be able to text, BBM, and email with colleagues, friends, and family.. I just don't want to site next to some loud schmuck on a plane yapping to his wife/kids/parents/ect.

Posted via CB10 from my amazing Q10

I suspect it has to do with the ability to detonate explosive devices remotely via cell phone.


If they truly want to do that I'm pretty sure they can ignore the rules. I had forgotten to switch off my phone before and no one, including me, knew.

Posted via CB10

Flying is bad enough with foul smelling, loud mouthed adults or crying kids. To have to tolerate someone talking into their phone loudly because they think it makes a difference. It would be air rage

Posted via CB10

They should be..

And actually on some they are. Go train started at 'quiet car' program last summer.. no phones allowed on those cars.

Posted via CB10

They aren't banned because they aren't 30,000 feet in the air…. lol the ban was due to their assumption that the signal could interfere with the flight equipment, since ya know, they are both frequency based… However, it is also because on take off and landing, they want you to be alert since those are the most vulnerable points of a flight… which is why you were once forbidden from wearing headphones on take off and landing…

Last summer when Delta gave free wifi to anyone using a BlackBerry, I made a BBM Video call during the flight. I was surprised it worked.

Posted via CB10

Cell site are not designed to transmit up there. They have directional antennas that cover the ground surface area.

Posted via CB10 from my Z30 :-)

It's bad enough when I go for coffee and there's some donkey using the coffee shop as his office (talking on his phone) but to have to put with d-brain on a plane, where you can't even leave - that's way too much !

Airlines/US needs to get with the times. Use headsets, talk quietly (in respect of your fellow mates/passengers) and don't be loud.

Posted via CrackBerry 10 (CB10) application using my BlackBerry Q10.

Agreed! They have headset on the market today designed for this. I have a lot of friends that is in the trucking business and they use these headsets to conduct business on the road. These headsets block out unwanted background noise making it easier to hear and therefore making it easier to talk without the need to yell and annoy the hell out of others.

Maybe BlackBerry should take this idea and make it better just for these purposes.

Bidagreat using the magnificent Z10

No in flight calls please, I am sure they will consider the comfort of passengers in the cabin and to the right conclusion, of course this is the government were talking about.

Posted via CB10

Honestly I pray this never gets approved. Unless the airlines are planning to add separate soundproof cabins on flights where people who cannot live without talking on their phones can chat away, changing the current legislation is just a bad idea. This goes for texting and messaging services as well. Can you imagine being on a 10 hour flight and trying to get a little shut eye and some dope next to you having a text message war with his co-workers? You'd see a lot of planes being turned around because of threats of violence :p

Posted via CB10

It's pretty much a moot point, as many of the US carriers have already said that they would not allow inflight calls, citing passenger surveys (not to mention the costs per a/c to outfit their planes with the necessary equipment that would allow such calls). It will be a policy change that will allow international carriers that have the technology to allow inflight cell calls to use the technology within US airspace (currently they have to turn those systems off once entering US airspace). It will also benefit business aviation as well, as their only option right now is satellite, as Gogo's parent company, Aircell, pulled the plug on Airfone at the end of 2013 (they're using that bandwidth to expand their Gogo Biz service).

My favorite rule on public transportation is "You cannot play music or use cell phones without earphones". So on go the earphones and up goes the volume for all to hear.

My other favorite law is "motorcyclist shall always have a helmet". So now all you see in this particular country is young kids on motorcycles with a helmet hanging on the bike or from their arm.

NPRM, notice of proposed rule making allows public comment by anyone. Perhaps the author can update the article with a link to that once it is available.