According to the Wall Street Journal, the Department of Transportation is considering a formal rule to ban cell phone voice calls during flights. Wait a minute – are cell phone calls allowed now? No. Not on U.S. airlines, anyway – and it’ll stay that way if the DOT has its way.
LISTEN: Travel expert Rick Seaney is not a fan of idle chatter.
Current Rules on Cell Phone Calls
Currently, airlines follow rules from the Federal Aviation Administration which banned cell calls on planes years ago on safety grounds. Then late last year, the Federal Communications Commission proposed overturning that – because the FCC felt the issues were no longer a problem. However, the FCC never did anything about it, which is why you are not woken during a mid-flight nap by a seatmate yelling, “Yes, I’m calling you FROM THE PLANE!”
But now the DOT is apparently pursuing a formal ban on cell calls that could go into effect early next year. Yes, there already is a ban of sorts in place but for those still following this, the DOT takes precedence over the FCC.
What do passengers say? Many have made it clear they have no interest in talking on phones. Maybe because they can already use them for what they really want: Texting and watching movies.
DOT – Very Busy Years
Maybe it should come as no surprise that the Department of Transportation is getting involved in cell phone calls; they’ve been getting more and more involved in all sorts of things in recent years, including levying steep fines on airlines.
According to a recent in-depth report in the Los Angeles Times, DOT citations against airlines doubled over the past three years (compared to the previous four years); the DOT appears to be far less forgiving of airline errors since its Passenger Protections went into effect in 2012. Some of the offenses cited by the DOT recently include advertising impossible-to-find deals and neglect (or mistreatment) of disabled passengers.