Topic of the Week: Cell Phones on Airplanes

The FCC says it will revisit a ban on cell phones on airplanes. Do you like that plan? Personally, I fully support the FCC removing the ban. Let the airlines decide if they want to allow it or not.

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71 Comments on "Topic of the Week: Cell Phones on Airplanes"

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JRS
Guest

It would present a marketing dilemma for the airlines, they have to figure out if allowing it is going to anger or please a majority of their customers and risk losing the business to other airlines that go in the opposite direction on the issue.

Matthew Gulino
Guest
I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people think. I’ve heard a lot of people griping about voice calls destroying the “peace and quiet” of the cabin – but let’s face it, the cabin was not quiet to begin with. I think someone who is speaking at a reasonable volume into their handset won’t be heard more than a seat away over the drone of the engines. I don’t think most people will be using their phones for talking anyway – it will be incredibly difficult to hear the person on your phone over the engines. More importantly,… Read more »
Nick C
Guest

Matthew — You mention not hearing someone talking at “reasonable volume into their handset won’t be heard more than a seat away.” What about the poor person stuck next to him or her? For hours? What about the two partyers two rows behind me I endured recently chatting and laughing most of the night on a SFO-JFK redeye despite noise-cancelling headset?

Southeasterner
Guest

“You’re crazy if you think they’ll be willing to settle for just the ordinary monthly minutes to make a call. ”

I would be interested to know if this is true. I have mistakenly left my phone on during a flight and heard it ringing in-flight and I thought some of the people on the 9/11 flights were calling people from their cell phones when their planes were hijacked? If we have reception now how would they be able to differentiate it from our normal service?

Jpeter100
Member

If the US airlines follow Emirates’ model, most people will not use the service except for extremely urgent matters.

DesertGhost
Guest

I agree with you, Brett. The government should lift the ban and leave the policy decisions to the airlines.

TimH
Member

I see no reason for the FAA to keep phones off planes if there isn’t a safety issue. I mean, the FAA doesn’t regulate a guy snoring in the row in front of me, or leaning back his seat 5 minutes after I take off my laptop, so why this?

You could limit cellphone voice use to say, the first few rows or something. Airlines try and monetize it: Maybe premium economy is a cell-friendly zone; maybe it’s a cell-forbidden zone.

marks
Guest

Airlines used to do this for smoking. So there could be a cell free zone and people could be asked to pay more for being in it…or out of it which ever turned out to be more profitable for airlines.

The biggest problem would be when two ‘shouters’ are sitting next to each other. Fun to observe from a distance, but a pain to sit near.

Tom Hill
Guest

Just because all annoyances can’t be regulated doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regulate what we can. People are no longer allowed to smoke in flight.

troyfilson
Member

But Tom, second-hand smoke is definitely a health risk. A conversation in the next row is not.
That’s a pretty concerning comment that we need to regulate what we can. Can you tell me why you believe that?

Kyle
Guest

I disagree with this. Some people, (my own father included) find it necessary to YELL every time they have a cell phone conversation. They’re banned in a lot of waiting rooms, buses, trains, etc. There’s no need for it anymore. WiFi is good enough so it should be left at that.

David
Guest

Data is plenty. Please keep the voice stuff disabled. The only problem is what to do about Skype and other voice services masquerading as data

SubwayNut
Guest

Well perhaps its another premium service, Airlines can start charing extra for the ‘Quiet Cabin.’ I picture something like the Quiet Cars on railroads that Amtrak and other Commuter Railroads in the Northeast like Metro-North, New Jersey Transit, Long Island Railroad, SEPTA have.

Wait on a plane your all in a single tube, there not separate cars with doors like a train.

David SF eastbay
Member
To me it’s the same as someone on the train during commuter hours talking on their phone. I’ve sat next to people and I didn’t even know they were on the phone because they knew they didn’t have to scream into the phone to be heard. Then you have the idiot at the other end of the car you can hear loud and clear because they are yelling into their phone thinking they have to. But unlike a train I can’t just change cars or get off and reboard another train in two minutes, on an airplane you are stuck.… Read more »
Chris Tucker
Guest

Noise-cancelling headphones do just that. Unfortunately the human voice is signal, not noise. To drown out human voices, you’re better off taking them off and putting in earplugs.

This is air-rage waiting to happen. People on mobile phones aren’t known as having the best etiquette ever. I hope the airlines factor in the cost of flight diversions into their decision.

Personally I would prefer an airline that doesn’t allow it, but schedule and price will win out. It’s not the differentiator that say wifi is.

Nick C
Guest
CF — As a point of political philosophy, I agree with you that the FCC no longer has technical reasons to ban cell phones use on planes. However, I believe the FAA still has a dog in this fight as there remains a safety/security dimension to their use in the air. The social friction created by inconsiderate/obnoxious misuse of cell phones could quickly escalate into situations threatening the physical safety of passengers, flight crew, and/or the aircraft. Or, not to be paranoid, it could be one more tool for those meaning harm to a flight to use. Here the FAA… Read more »
malbarda
Member

Agree with Cranky: let the airlines decide. And then I will decide which one I choose to fly. Spoiler alert: it will be the one where relative peace & quiet is guaranteed.

Zakany
Guest

I don’t think they use airships anymore. More likely, you’ll take a jet-propelled aircraft, which affords zero “peace & quiet.”

kenneth.velten
Member

Lift the ban but I sure hope the airlines ban cell phones. All it takes is one to allow the use of cell phones and the rest will join in. It is probably business flyers who will use it and maybe they are all in first class?

marks
Guest
Nah. It is not the people in first class that will use the phones, it is the wage slaves who have to be available non-stop. It used to be that the cell phone was the status symbol. Now, NOT having a cell phone (or at least not having to be available via cell phone) is the sign of status. If you want me, call my (human) PA. The PA will filter all calls, and I hardly ever need to answer or use a phone. The serfs in my employ however, must be available for my PA to call whenever it… Read more »
mandel.jerry1
Member

Imagine if you are trying to sleep-especially on long flights-and people are yammering on the phone. That’s when you wish the TSA would let you bring pepper spray. Maybe, putting a crying baby awakened by the jerk in the jerk’s lap would work.

Steven Peters
Guest
Much as I oppose federal regulation of our freedoms, I am absolutely confident that lifting the ban will lead to all airlines allowing cell phone use in flight. This may boost the stock price of Bose and others who make noise canceling headsets, but it will worsen an already barely tolerable in-flight experience. A sort of Gresham’s Law is at work in commercial aviation, with the lowest priced, lowest quality experience driving any pleasure and comfort out of the air travel experience. Airlines seem bent on losing a little on every transaction and making it up in volume (sarcasm). The… Read more »
Bob Simmons
Guest

My sentiments exactly, and beautifully stated!

bham181
Member
Allowing cell phone use in flight will be disruptive and is unnecessary. There are too many cell phone users who are on their phone just because they can be regardless of where they are or whether or not there is any substance or urgency to their call. Why do so many restaurants work so hard to ban cell phones? Do you want to be the person sitting next to a compulsive cell phone user yammering away on multiple calls for an entire flight? If there is information that needs to be shared during a flight email and text messaging provide… Read more »
john96
Member
FCC aside, I rue the day that the airlines let it happen… Oh my land, what a pinnacle of a truly miserable experience air travel would become. From the continual nickeling and diming at the ticket counter, to the strip search grope at security, to the middle seat with the nonstop seat kicker, to the ground stops and delays … my blood pressure goes up just thinking about what an unpleasant experience air travel is now. Sure we can go farther and faster and accomplish so much more than our predecessors, but because many people ignore the fact that there… Read more »
Gary73
Guest
HE@$ NO! Ordinarily, I’m all for keeping the government out of business as much as possible. Lots of comments above about “people will be kind” and “it won’t be as much of a deal as others think” and, most importantly, from a philosophical standpoint, “let the market decide.” But this is a public safety issue of the highest import that will get very personal, very quickly. Look….or more to the point…listen around….people really don’t know how loud they are on a cell phone and it will become a confrontation…and an inflight safety issue real quick. No sooner this am, had… Read more »
RICH
Guest
Just think how obnoxious some people are in Restaurants and other public venues with their cell phone. Imagine being captive to 10 people talking loudly around you on a coast to coast flight. I agree wi fi is fine for doing work sending emails etc Flight crews will now be forced to tell people to pipe down when being too loud and obnoxious on their phones. And what call is SO important, that it cannot wait until you arrive at your destination.
GKHannon
Member
Good grief! No, no, no….h**** no! Flying is miserable enough now, and the prospect of loud-mouthed buffoons making life miserable for those around them sends chills down my spine. However, if airlines want to install a “cone of silence” for potential cell phone users, maybe the old British Red Phone Box, where compulsive talkers could go to place their calls, then I could support that. Put it in the back, next to the toilet doors, so it won’t be in the way. Wi-fi e-mails are quite enough to stay in touch (although most people are also using that in an… Read more »
timlsurfer
Member

I agree with previous posts. I do NOT want the ban lifted. I don’t need to listen to someone’s personal conversation while we are flying. People are rude to begin with…no reason to provide another tool with which they can exercise their poor behavior.

spengle
Member

Hate the idea. People have a tendency to speak louder on cell phone because it is harder to hear and they think they have to speak up to BE heard. I don’t care what the FAA does, I think voice calls should not be enabled on planes for all of the reasons others have stated. The last thing we need is another reason for people to get angry and act out on planes. They should definitely not be allowed when lights go off on red eye flights

John G
Guest
All this is pretty much moot anyway. Ever tried to turn on your cell phone in flight? There is no signal at flight altitude. The cell towers are designed to throw the signal to the ground, not the air. They can allow it if they want, but most often you won’t have a signal to call from unless the plane is low to the ground…and they would ban it under 10,000 feet. That notwithstanding, sure is a whole lot of crying going on. If someone is bothering you, speak up and ask them to be quiet. That goes for whether… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

John, this is also about putting in pico cells — basically a little cell tower in the airplane. The cell service would work at altitude.

marks
Guest

And when they tell you, extremely rudely, to get lost?

That is the problem.

Anywhere else, you can shrug your shoulders and move away. That’s hard to do at 30,000 feet.

Michele McDonald
Guest

If the ban is lifted and airlines allow cellphone use, I predict lots of cell yell leading to air rage leading to fisticuffs and lots and lots of diverted flights. Does anyone really need to communicate immediately? That’s why God invented e-mail.

Derek Pugh
Member

Just make it super expensive (i.e. $5 a minute) and it will keep most from using the service and any other calls short and to a minimum. I had a cruise that had cell service, but it was so expensive hardly anyone used it. I could see the same thing happening on planes. Charge a premium for it and there won’t be too many issues.

marvzwerin
Member
I just spent an hour on the ground listening to some AH in First across the aisle and two rows back from me talking to some business colleague about a deal he was doing and the 2 million dollar check he would send when he got back to Dallas the next day. Does anyone need to listen to people blabbering about anything when they are captive in the aluminum tube for hours on end. I think not. Text away. Keep your mouth shut. NOBODY talks in a quiet tone when they are on a cell phone, particularly in a noisy… Read more »
jaybru
Member
Of course, it would be nice if everyone acted responsibly, whether with cell phones, with smoking, with alcohol and drugs, with bringing on carry-ons that contain hazardous materials or objects that could be used to disrupt a flight, or with, heaven help us, one’s personal hygiene. Do we need the government to set the rules (the do’s, the do not’s, the penalties applicable to violations) or should it be up to the airline, maybe the flight crew, or how about THE captain, or a vote by passengers on each flight, showing either a majority of people approving or else an… Read more »
MichaelS
Guest
This is a VERY bad idea – who needs to listen to the loud, one-sided conversation of an inconsiderate passenger behind you, or (God forbid) next to you while you’re crammed into a too-small, no-legroom airline seat with no means of escape until landing? We know how unpleasant flying has become of late, for most of us who travel by air – extra fees for everything, tight overhead space allocations, cabins reeking of the fast-food meals passengers bring on board. Why add another unnecessary irritant to the mix? I used to love flying. Now, I just endure it.
Paul Ferdinand
Member

One only has to take a ride on the Acela between NYC and Washington to see what a disaster allowing cellphone use will become.

MeanMeosh
Guest
As a frequent user of mass transit, my experience there causes my answer to be not just no, but h*ll no. I’ve listened to enough conversations on a crowded train either describing, in excruciating detail, the caller’s hemorrhoids problem and/or their exhaustive knowledge of English-language obscenities, every time at yell volume, of course. I’d put the odds of having at least one jerk like that on every flight at perhaps 1 in 3, and when that person shows up, it’s going to be like the scene in Airplane! where the Punjabi guy drenches himself in gasoline and lights the match… Read more »
ron
Guest

There will be “blood in the aisles” if this is allowed.
Note the reactions to abuse on “quiet passenger transit railcars”.
We are a nation of individuals that don’t care about the result of their actions on others.

eleanor.c.moore
Member

For what it’s worth from someone who is 65 years old and a retired airline executive, why does anyone have to speak on the phone unless it’s life or death? I can understand if someone just had a baby, or if someone you’re traveling to see in the hospital just passed away, but business can wait and if everyone would please be quiet on the plane, maybe some of us older folks can catch up on some much needed rest! ha, ha, ha.

Keith Lemick
Guest
The reason people tend to talk louder on cell phones in noisy environments is that there is not any self-limiting mechanism. Using a land line, some of your voice and the ambient noise is fed back from the mouthpiece to the earpiece so your ear hears what you sound like in the current situation and you self limit the volume. Cell Phones do not feedback your voice and ambient noise because your transmission and the reception by the cell phone are on separate frequencies. Studies have shown that cell phone users do not self limit the volume of their portion… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

I wonder if this is a generational thing — My dad who is in his sixties raises his voice to use a cell phone. I don’t. (At least I’m pretty sure I don’t.)

I bet this study is just showing that people are trained how to use landlines, and reacting with their training.

FWIW, VoIP phones, which are designed to mimic landlines feed back some of the voice into the earpiece, but the sent and received audio is transmitted in different bands.

Kheart359
Member

Agreed!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

kozmaterry
Member

Hell no!!!!!!

Andy
Guest

No. Period.

BW
Guest
I miss the days when there could be reasonable discussion about anything. Now half the dialogue is completely over the top. There won’t be blood in the aisles or riots on planes. That’s just ridiculous. You will run across an obnoxious phone caller about as often as you run across a seatmate chatterbox, drunk, or screaming kid. It’s not the end of the world. They have just as much right to make a phone call if they want as you do to tell them to STFU. It’s not a safety issue. Leave the government out of it. If the airlines… Read more »
Nick Barnard
Member

Here Here BW! I’m all for reasonable civil discourse.

al_9000
Member
I have no problem with text and other quiet things, but I am totally against cell calls on planes. Try as I might, I can’t filter that stuff out. And I’ve noticed that the volume of a given cell phone conversation seems to be correlated to its inanity. I remember a flight I was on several years ago that sat on the tarmac for several hours during a ground stop because of a snowstorm at ORD: the quietest (and shortest) conversation was a mother who was trying to arrange for her kids to be picked up after school because she… Read more »
troyfilson
Member
Whether you personally like it or not, it’s a matter of personal liberty where you want to take a call or not. Yes, there are rude people who will shout into their phones and disrupt those around them, however we must remember that at the end of the day, an airplane is simply another public place and another form of public transportation. Yes, I’m taking a “libertarian” point of view here. If the FCC removes the ban, it will be because they cannot justify it from a safety perspective; passenger comfort and peaceful spaces are not necessarily factors that the… Read more »
Grover thomas
Guest
If the question is what would I prefer, I would prefer they do not allow it. I am ending the year with 244,000 Delta MQM’s this year and the idea that there would be passengers on planes I am on alking on the phone is not pleasant. I remember 15 or 20 years ago when the planes had phones in seats and I recall how disruptive it was. Occasional fliers may not care, but as a true road warrior for 30 plus tears, I find solace and an opportunity to rest up or focus on a project while on a… Read more »
Laura La
Guest

Considering that I have sat in an otherwise quiet airline club lounge and listened to a businessman across the room announce his AMEX number so loudly into his cell phone that I was tempted to write it down and use it on eBay or something, I have little faith that everyone who uses their phone on the plane will speak at an appropriate volume.

But hey, let ’em make their calls: I can entertain myself by Tweeting the loud people’s conversations.

yo
Guest

…because, I will be on a flight next to some ditz who will spend 30 minutes saying “Ohmygod, do you like know where I am calling from? No! I’m like on a plane, yeah, with my phone! Yeah, can you believe it? Uh huh!….etc

Same thing happened when there were sky phones…but that cost money, so people didn’t do it much.

Nick Barnard
Member

Heh. this’d probably cost money too. Although perhaps not as much as the airphones given the reduction in equipment that needs to be hauled around.

yo
Guest

I was on a flight once and the girl next to me called someone, and tried to convince them she was airborne. I made muffled sounds like she was in the terminal “United Airlines, now boarding rows…etc” the person on the other end thought she was at the gate…

John G
Guest

Why is it anyone else’s business how much time a person spends on the phone? MYOB! If the conversation gets loud ask them to quiet down. Just like you would now.

If you want quiet get some ear plugs and a mask and shut them out. Whether they are on the phone or just bragging loudly about how important they are to anyone on the plane that will listen. That annoys me far more than any phone conversation.

Hell, most people would text anyway.

troyfilson
Member

This is exactly my point. Neither passenger comfort nor the phone user’s loudness/rudeness/bimbo-ness is the concern of the FCC. There is no relevance to how much someone hates cell phone chatter in public. The airplane is also a public place. Sorry to inform those who wish it to be otherwise…

Jim White
Guest

Cell phones are a necessary evil but I do not want to be on a plane, trapped, listening to people talk about all the inane things in their life. And, listen to them at a high volume.

David SF eastbay
Member
A different way to look at this is to think of it as free inflight entertainment. A lot of people watch reality shows about boring worthless people and their ‘sure its for real’ life on the jersey shore or about something else. So just sit back and listen to other boring worthless people talking about their life on a cell phone and pretend it’s tv. The one advantage is you’ll be able to join in on the conversation they are having by asking them questions and asking what the other person said. You can’t do that with television. And remember… Read more »
PJM in Seattle
Guest
Before a flight from Dulles to Seattle the 20-ish guy next to me was talking to his girlfriend about how he needs his space, he is too cool for one girl, she has to learn to accept it. He was loud and clueless. Everyone around him including me tried to give him hints…staring at him, coughing, shaking our heads, and he saw the hints but continued because a narcissistic ‘cool’ guy with the world at his feet, does what he wants. The only thing that prevented a scene was the inevitable announcement to turn off the phones. If it wasn’t… Read more »
PF
Guest

No cell phones – it’s bad enough when people use them during boarding and are reluctant to end their calls when the cabin door is closed.

Kheart359
Member

Agreed PF…..

Kheart359
Member

“Let the fist fights begin”…exactly what’ll happen if people are allowed to use their cell phones to make phone calls……I don’t want to hear about “Aunt Martha’s goiter, thanks…..

Andy Nixon
Guest
I dread the days when people will start talking on their phones during flight. As someone that logged 300K+ miles last year I enjoy the flight time as a last bastion of freedom from the drone of others demanding my time. Also, from experience we all know that people are generally not polite and typically do not take others into account as they speak on their phones in a public space. I am not speaking about road warriors that tend to show extreme patience and flexibility, but the spoiled bratty 3% that feel somehow entitled to do as they please… Read more »
Art
Member

Texting inflight should be allowed but allowing actual cell phone calls are just asking for a huge spike in air-rage incidents along with the expensive and inconvenient diversions. The airline that does not allow calls in flight will have my respect and business whenever possible price be damned.

sanchezmark
Guest

I completely agree. In fact, anyone who wants to use a phone on a plane shoudl be required to wear a sound-proof bag over his or her head while doing so. Oxygen coudl be sold as an extra.

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