In the beginning of November, I boarded a JetBlue flight for Fort Lauderdale and mechanically shut off my cell phone, leaving my iPod as the only technological device I’d be using for the next three hours. I’d heard through the grapevine that limited cell phone use was now permitted on flights and that texting was possible while in the air, but I pretended to still be living in the past because I so needed a break from communication. While I’m sure a lot of people feel the way that I do, others are undoubtedly thrilled that they can now stay connected to their job and their friends while in the air. I’ll never know if I could have actually gotten a text out midway through my flight – I’m happy to go a little retro during short flights and act as though the iPhone hasn’t been invented yet.
The New Normal
The Federal Communications Commission is proposing a rule that lets airline passengers use their cell phones. While phones still have to stay out of use during takeoff and landing, once the plane is above 10,000 feet, use will be permitted again, allowing flyers to call and text anyone they want to. This news isn’t exactly groundbreaking, since it’s been tried before. In 2004, flight attendants fought and won against another F.C.C. proposal to allow phone calls on planes. Right now, it’s possible to text on some airlines and in December, the FCC will present its proposal for in-flight calls. That doesn’t mean that you could be placing calls as early as January, though. Since cell phone towers are on the ground, airplanes will need specialty equipment before passengers can get a call out.
Is It Really Better?
One argument against the new cell phone rule is that previously, not having this allowance meant a forced break from technology, like it or not. There are enough annoyances on flights as it is: lost luggage, lack of leg room, high priced meals, extended delays…who needs to listen to 25 rows of people chatting away on their phones, too? As with technology itself, the idea of lifting the ban on electronic devices is great, until it’s overused – i.e. when tablet and cell phone use becomes obnoxious to other flyers. A majority of people agree, too. According to CNN.com, an FAA survey showed that 61% of an advisory group were in support of a ban on making phone calls while flying.
Flight Attendants Weigh In
The Association of Flight Attendants feels the same way as the public and is worried about safety issues that can arise. Flight Attendants are the first responders on a flight, taught and trained to de-escalate problems as they arise. Allowing cell phone calls is asking for trouble, many of them feel. It’s extremely important to keep the cabin environment calm and subdued during a flight, particularly if there’s trouble on the flight for some reason.
Quiet Sections May Be In the Works
With cell phone conversations on the horizon, a new question arises: should there be quiet sections on flights? They already have quiet cars on Amtrak, so it’s not an entirely novel idea. Business people and chatty flyers can stay in the regular section of the plane while travelers who want a peaceful flight can pay extra to sit in a quiet section. To some, it may seem that it should be the other way around – put the people who can’t get through a flight without making a phone call in a higher priced part of the plane and let everyone else travel the way they’re used to.
IMAGE CREDIT: Flickr & Creative Commons
Sara Wells is a tech blogger and iPhone aficionado. He writes on behalf of Protect Your Bubble iPhone insurance brand and other companies.
Article publié pour la première fois le 09/12/2013