Airlines could let passengers make in-flight phone calls using
Wi-Fi under a proposal from federal regulators.
and others have complained that the calls could be disruptive. But
the Department of Transportation said Thursday that it envisioned
allowing the calls if airlines tell all customers about the policy
when they buy their tickets.
customers could make other travel arrangements if they feared
sitting next to passengers chatting on their phones.
There is a 60-day
comment period, and the proposal leaves the door open to the
possibility that federal officials could still impose an outright
Communications Commission prohibits passengers from making
cellphone calls during flights, but not Wi-Fi calls.
proposal will ensure that air travelers are not unwillingly
exposed to voice calls, as many of them are troubled over the idea
of passengers talking on cell phones in flight,"
Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. In
2014, the department issued a request for public comments on the
possibility of permitting the calls and the response was
president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said
anything short of a ban on calls is "reckless." Flight
attendants have said previously that they fear the calls could
lead to fights between passengers who want to make calls and
passengers who don't want to listen to the conversations.
threatens aviation security and increases the likelihood of
conflict in the skies. It threatens safety for crews and
passengers," Nelson said.
However, the U.S.
airlines' trade group opposes a government ban on in-flight calls.
long held that this was not a matter for DOT to regulate, and we
believe airlines should be able to determine what services can be
safely offered in flight and make those decisions based on what is
in the best interests of their passengers and crewmembers," a
spokeswoman for Airlines for America, Kathy Grannis Allen, said by
Airlines and Alaska Airlines said they have no plans to allow
customers have expressed concerns regarding the potentially
disruptive nature of in-flight voice calls," said Southwest
spokesman Brian Parrish. Alaska Airlines spokeswoman Bobbie Egan
said the carrier surveyed passengers a few years ago and got
"a strong reaction" that they didn't want calls.
A Delta Air Lines
spokeswoman noted that the carrier has opposed voice calls for
said it was reviewing the proposal and would listen to the views
of customers and employees. American referred questions to the
trade group. JetBlue did not have an immediate comment.