New FCC Rule Could Allow Airlines to Establish In-Flight Mobile Services

Anyone who has ever flown the friendly skies knows that before takeoff, flight attendants will request that you power down all mobile devices.

So, why can’t you use your electronic companion? (And why are flight attendants such sticklers for making sure they’re turned off?) Well, starting in 1991, the Federal Communications Commission prohibited in-flight cellular usage because of interference with both the airplane’s navigational systems and its ground networks. However, that ban could soon be lifted.

In the past decade, we’ve been able to incorporate more electronics into our skyward travels, from listening to iPods to utilizing “airplane mode” on our smartphones. With the burst of technological advances today, the FCC is considering whether this warrants a change to wireless services while flying.

The FCC recently has proposed access to in-flight mobile services for all fliers, and if this proposal is adopted, airlines may allow passengers to use their wireless devices in the sky – but the decision to let consumers access their mobile devices while in the air will be at the sole discretion of each airline company.

This FCC proposal also states that by no means does this give passengers the right to operate cell phones while on planes. Instead, this proposal gives airlines the option to offer its customers in-flight mobile services. How would this work? Well, according to the FCC:

“If adopted, the new rules could give airlines the ability to install an Airborne Access System that would provide the connection between passenger’s wireless devices and commercial wireless networks, much like Wi-Fi service is provided today aboard aircraft to provide connections to the Internet and safely manage connections.”

The FCC has been bombarded with both opposition and interest in this proposal. Those opposed are concerned that flights will be inundated with loud, unwanted chatter, while others welcome the ability to make and receive calls and continue life as normal while on the plane.

The initial proposal was approved in mid-December by a vote of 3-2. This vote has now opened the floor for more serious consideration by both the commission and the public. The FCC would like to hear from you, so consider voicing your opinion about in-flight mobile services on the FCC’s website.

  • Ann

    There should not be cell phone usage on planes when in flight. I agree with others that there is enough noise on planes that is just part of the process that can’t be helped. However, I travel for business and pleasure and often have to work while on the plane. I can’t imagine trying to concentrate to prepare for a meeting or presentation with someone complaining about their lousy significant other and explaining what horrible thing they did with the most “colorful” language they can think of.

    WiFi is fine. Even texting but please NO Cell phone calls while in flight. No one is that important!!!

  • mab

    I would prefer not to have to listen the endless drivel of someone talking on a cell phone after I have paid several hundred dollars for the privilege of being tied down in steerage for two to five hours. Worse, the endless drivel of several someones all around me, with no way to escape. It gives me a headache. Let those with logorrhea become literate and read a book. Let them use email. But don’t allow them to infect the only air we all share with unnecessary vibration that is painful to the rest of us.
    Back in the good old days we had phone booths. I used to think it was to offer privacy to the callers. Now I know it was just as much to protect the public. How about put a couple of phone booths on the airplane and require people to use them to use their cell phones? They could have a sign in sheet as they board, and a max of 5 minutes per call. If you cant say it in 5 minutes, it aint worth saying.

  • Richard Wal

    The air marshals better get ready for some good fisticuffs.

  • Skip Norcross

    The problem with it is that some people feel a need to be “connected” all of the time. That’s fine unless you occupy any seat near them. Frankly, I don’t care to know everything about “your” life.

  • judi boland

    Moving forward is always a good thing, however as with all things there is a minus to every plus. At this point I am unaware of the depth and breath of this new possibility. So while it might be an advantage for many to be able to use their mobile devices while in the air I am opposed to one being able to converse-verbally, while flying! If verbal exchange versus texting, emailing is the debate on the floor, I VOTE NO THANK YOU! For the most obvious reason, noise all over the plane. Another reason is I AM NOT INTERESTED IN HEARING WHAT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO THE ONES CONVERSING via their mobile device. I don’t want to hear about petty issues, private matters,etc.! And this occurring on an international flight would be most problematic! Again, I wish to state, I am not aware of the full details of what policy is actually on the table. SO appreciate NO SMOKING on the plane and I also appreciate NO MOBILE CONVERSATIONS as well. And a point to be considered is… Will more people fly because of this policy passing or will more people decided not to?

  • anita

    I am against use of cell phones on planes. I cannot imagine the noise that one would have to put up with. You could be surrounded by several people talkingl loudly on their phones and listening to private conversations that should not be discussed openly in public. People seem to forget that others can hear them and often they talk louder on cell phones than they would on a land line at home!

  • Eugene Bruce

    I think cell phone usage should be allowed —- IN THE BAGGAGE COMPARTMENT. If they want to use their cell phone, they can fly with the luggage.

  • Kathy

    Please no cell phone usage on the plane.

  • ted zicko

    In a few words my answer is “.No.” In such as confined space such as an airline passenger cabin, I don’t want to sit beside someone who might be
    on the phone chatting away for whatever reason. I’d find it extremely annoying to say the least. It makes me feel like someone is in my face
    space which I would not even tolerate if I were on the ground.
    I do not approve!

  • Janet Gardiner

    I strongly oppose the proposal to let people use their cell phones in-flight. Being cramped up together for hours in over-crowded aircraft and having to listen to people’s conversations is going to send some individuals beserk–with good reason.

    This proposal will only be acceptable to me, at least, if cell-phone use is confined to a designated area of seats–but the reservations logistics are going to be a headache: there will inevitably be some people who protest that they weren’t able to get seats in a “talking” section of the plane.

    What on earth is the matter with a few quiet hours to oneself when traveling–or with quietly talking to a fellow-passenger by mutual agreement???

    Empty vessels make the most noise . . .

    If this proposal goes through, I’ll stop flying.

  • Diane Rivera

    I am AGAINST THE USE OF cell phones while traveling on any airlines AT ANY TIME.
    We sit to close to each other.
    I do not wish to hear other peoples conversations nor do I want them to hear mine.

    Respectfully submitted

    Diane Rivera

  • Roger

    I am totally against the use of any type of phone in a passenger seat of any aircraft. I want to be able to read, watch a movie or simply sleep. I do not want to hear people at all. Conversations between passengers are fine but not always as some people never stop talking and are often loud. Similarly some children are a problem but I just deal with it within my own head. I remember the “old days” when phones were in the back of the seat: it was so annoying as some people seemed to be on it half the trip. Please say NO to this idea.

    If you are going to permit phone use on an aircraft please make them go to a sound-proof hood somewhere so I do not have to hear any of it. If they can not use the phone because they have to sit in their seat; TOO BAD.

  • jack

    bad idea, already too many inconsiderate people fling now , who don’t know when to be QUIET!!!!

  • Mary

    This is a horrible idea. Anyone who lives in a metropolitan area with train service understands that cell phone users on transportation vehicles are loud, obnoxious and have little concern for those around them. At least on a train you can move to a different car or get off at the next stop if the annoying cell phone talker gets to be too much. On an airplane? Forget it. If this law passes, they should AT LEAST offer flights where no cell phones are allowed. Then all the obnoxious people can fly together on the other flights and drive each other insane. So disgusted that this is even being considered.

  • Jackie

    Seriously? For real? Cell phones, even texting, on planes – just more serious problems in our already declining country. You can take it to the bank I will never fly again, if this is passed, and I am a frequent flyer. Some people have the tick, tick noise on their phones when they text, very nerve wracking, some people talk so loudly on the phone, many different languages being spoken, personal conversations that I don’t want to hear, etc. Above all of that, where are our rights as the bystander, trying to sleep, read, listen to music, etc.? Come on, get real. I already have made my plans to make my next trip this summer by driving from Florida to Alaska, alone, and return by bus and train rather than fly. AND, I am 80 years old, damn it!

  • Cathy

    No, No. No. Bad idea to allow operating cell phones while in flight.

  • MIKE

    Don’t need the extra aggravation of some obnoxious half-wit mindlessly blathering with his/her counterpart in my already limited airline cabin space. About as much fun as listening too some jerk in the grocery line, restaurant or movie theater.

    Stash your mobile devices in your bags when flying ladies and gentlemen–keep your conversations personal and (especially) private.

  • don duncan

    NO, and HELL NO

  • Pamela Falik

    Terrible idea. People,are rude and not considerate of others. Cell phone useage will encourage additional noise and imposition on the other passengers.

    It is more than suffieient to allow email contact. This provides connectivity without the additional noise of peole talking (loudly) and infringing on other’s rigt to quiet.

  • BJ

    Bad enough we have to listen to people’s personal ‘info’ every day on the street. Silence please in the air.

  • Alfred g Schenk

    No,Iam against it,what about privacy?????

  • Roger

    I believe the proposal is a bad idea. there is no reason why someone can’t go a few hours without using their cell phone. in addition the conversations can be very disturbing to other passengers



  • Sharon Cox

    I love my cell phone and use it everyday but the idea of sitting in a condensed plane dealing with loud non-stop conversations makes me sick. I’ll start driving instead of flying. Lots of people are too loud on cell phones and have no consideration for others. I’m mean really they can already drink alcohol and now you want to have loud non stop cell phone use.

  • Philiprlevine

    I would stop flying. I would be likely to kill anyone talking on a cell phone around me so I would save myself the grief and do a lot of walking.

  • Susan MacRae

    Cell phones should not be allowed! Flying in a plane with a bunch of jabbering people would be enough to send many of us over the edge. Really, how ridiculous.

  • Myra

    This is a very bad idea. Some people have no respect for others around them & speak on their phones as if they are alone in the world. An airplane presents very tight quarters where it would be impossible NOT to overhear someone’s conversation. Who cares? Some passengers need to sleep because they have travelled a distance to get on a particular flight. What about their right to sleep or relax at least? Others like to read in peace & quiet. This is surely a recipe for disaster & we have already seen people reach their boiling point over this very issue.

  • Francois Delgado

    No!!!big time NO!!

  • Tjc

    No no no please do not allow phone calls on planes texting and data ok that don’t make noise but the people who talk loud on the phone simply because they are trying to impress someone are not needed. They shouldn’t even be allowed once you get to the door of the plane. The other thinks like iPads and MP3 players ok as long as head phones that don’t leak I like music but a lot of stuff leaking out of iPods don’t fall into the class of music if someone else can hear it throw them off the plane if the plane is 20000 ft up or on the ground throw maybe next time they will turn volume down

  • Jon F Edelbaum

    Allowing cell phone use on airplanes is the dumbest idea yet. Can you imagine 250 people jammed together in a space that is appropriately sized for maybe 30, all screaming into their cell phones in order to be heard over the cacaphony of all of the rest of the inconsiderate jackasses screaming into THEIR cell phones in order to be heard…. CELL PHONES ON AIRPLANES IS STUPID IDEA DO NOT DO IT.

  • Katie

    No Unwanted noises on Planes please.
    It is so over used in public place; ie restaurants, buses, trains, stores, every where.

    Please keep the culture of flying as quiet as possible. This also makes people unsettling with flying more comfortable and keeps folks alert with suspicious activity. I believe it is a safety issue to keep talking to a minimum.

  • Dana Isherwood

    I strongly oppose allowing the use of cell phones on planes. Anyone who has had to listen to those on cell phones in a restaurant or other public places know that when someone is talking on the phone, they feel a if they are in their own “bubble”. I have heard the most personal aspects of a person’s life talked about on a cell phone. What with delayed planes, bad food, and poor service, the use of cell phones only increases the chance of road rage in the air. I do not want someone talking loudly (most people talk in a louder voice when on a phone) only a foot or so from my ear. PLEASE do not go this route. Air travel is already a stressful experience. Do not make it worse.

  • John

    Bad idea to allow cell phone usage during flights

    • JP

      Very Very Bad Idea. I hope FCC will not do it.

  • Vicki

    No talking please.

  • Eric winston

    Prefer no cell phones during flight. The amount of unwanted noise (conversation) of personal. Conversations will only make a flight very uncomfortable. and it is really not necessary. how many years have we gone without cell phone “noise” in an enclosed environment.

  • George Manet

    Too many cellphone users consider it a megaphone, raising the sound of their conversations well above normal person-to-person levels. It’s not only annoying, but distracting and often offensive as well. Humanity has managed to stay in touch with landline devices like the hard-wired telephone/telex and the postal service and has prospered. It is not necessary, and unhealthful as well, to be connected 24/7.

    Plane travel, even for business travelers, is a bit of time to get away from normal pressures, to relax, to read, or to sleep. Being locked into a space with someone yelling into his/her mobil phone for hours is something out of Dante’s Hell. It will spell the end of my air travel whenever possible.

  • Janet

    No talking please. Unless the airlines give us MUCH more personal space (good luck) no talking!

  • Tom Erich

    I do not think this is a good idea. Who wants to have somebody settng next to time talking all day or night.

  • Nemesis

    Oh please no! Flying has become unpleasant enough without a plane full of people yammering into their phones for five or six hours. I hate to burst everyone’s importance bubbles, but the world can and will go on without hearing from you for the duration of a flight.

  • Lynda

    Please – no!!!. I even hate it now when people are walking through department stores on their bluetooth and everyone within a 50 foot radius hears their unwanted conversation. They have no regard for how they are disturbing those around them. I can’t imagine this happening with those beside, in front and behind you on a plane. If people want this, then I’m not flying. Maybe airlines can bring back the phone booth with 2 per plane and charge a per minute fee to use the sound proof booth. Of course there is sometimes something important to talk to someone about – but there will be people just chatting away with Aunt Sue to pass te time. Can’t imagine it.

  • Olie Godinez

    Don’t we have enough inconsiderate, rude individuals on the ground. Why put them up in an airplane where we do not have the ability to walk away.
    So now by someone else’s choice, we may lose our right to not listen to everyone’s private or work conversations out load. Just recently at a movie theater close to my home a man was shot and killed because of an argument that escalated over cell phone texting, which I might add that the phone should have been off after many announcements to do so.
    Inconsiderate and Rude, people of this recent generation have no consideration or manners. Prior to the cell phones era, you would have never seen someone ask for a big large black, dial type telephone at a movie,theater,or restaurant. Not because of size and convenience, but because of the way people were bought up and they way they were taught to act in Public!
    And that’s all I have to say……

    • Linden

      You are exactly right, Olie. This is a terrible idea.

  • Beth

    Bad Bad Bad idea.Did I say Bad!!!

  • Kevin J Pender

    Please do NOT allow cell phone use on planes. With seats are so close that you have to compete for the arm rest and no personal space already the only outcome can be angry passangers. Flights are already high stress because of the long lines and cramped space, this will only add to it. How annoying will it be to have somebody loud talking next to you. Flying is already unpleasant, please don’t add to it.

  • Connie Amend

    I am totally opposed to the idea of allowing passengers on planes to make cell phone calls while in the air. It is already bad enough to hear all the conversations in the boarding area. One of the few remaining joys of flying is that it is the one place where one’s work colleagues can’t reach, so gives a bit of peace to one’s life. Celebrate the (relative) quiet rather than destroy it. Texting is not a problem.

  • Maria De Santiago

    It apears like a good idea but what about the noise level and the constant movement of the hands that you can see in the corner of our eyes.

    I feel that, the flight will not be as pleasant and peacful as it was before. I know that sometimes there may be a need to make a call. Why can’t we just relax without the phone always in the palm of our hand.

  • Mimi

    No Way!!! People already only think of themselves on the plane. They bump you, stand on top of you and don’t even apologize. The loud talking is the first of many problems with this. People need time on the plane to unwind and fall asleep if they choose. The business class still can accomplish work with their laptops and iPads. This is not necessary!!! The passenger is always the forgotten one! We are already treated like sardines!!!

  • Diane

    NO MORE NOISE ON FLIGHTS! It’s bad enough with children crying, adult overly loud voices (why?) , plane noise etc.
    Lets keep it as peaceful as possible after the hustle bustle of getting to the airport, parking, checking in, going through security etc.
    It has already been proven too many people demonstrate inconsiderate phone manners.

  • Gayle

    No!!! Don’t do it. I am definitely all for technology and technological advances. I would even love to be able to play my ipod during take-off and landing (still can’t understand why that is a problem). But phone conversations with people sitting almost in your lap? No. Texting, fine, but talking? Absolutely not.

  • Pat Querubin

    No phones on airplanes unless there is a ban on voice messaging and talking. If someone is talking on their phone, then their phone will be taken and returned to them when the plane has landed. Each passenger would be told at the time the flight attendant is giving instructions before the plane takes off. It seems that this procedure could possibly be a problem for the airline staff and if so, then no cell phones allowed.

  • gus

    on short flights,2 to 4 hrs no way,,,on longer klights,mabye,,,text only…I travel 2 to 3,4 times a year……

  • Catherine

    As a frequent flier I greatly appreciate the ability to be “wired” during flight. And as much as enjoy this is as much as I am against permitting the use of cell phones. The noise pollution will be unbearable. Just as there used to be smoking sections on a plane there will need to be phone sections to contain the cacaphony.

  • HWZ

    Texting only please…allows for all necessary communications without
    the irritation and imposition on passengers peace and privacy.

    • Ron

      Cell phone use on planes will result in a new cousin of road rage–phone rage!