Time to Revisit Cell Phones on Planes?

Later this week when Thai Airways begins service on a new giant-sized A380 plane between Bangkok and Hong Kong, those passengers will be able to enjoy all sorts of amenities, including the ability to chat on their cell phones. UPDATE: Emirates says it too will now allow cell phones in flight.

Amazing Planes, Amazing Amenities

Some Airlines Do Allow Cell Calls

Plenty of other passengers already enjoy this privilege as long as they’re flying one of the European or Asian carriers that have adopted “cells are OK” regulations – including Virgin Atlantic. But, for better or worse, the service has yet to be offered in the U.S.

FAA to Study Electronic Devices on Planes

In August, however, the Department of Transportation asked the FAA to look into the matter: Do electronic devices really cause interference and/or other problems during takeoffs and landings? So far, the answer has not yet been publicized, but media momentum has been building, with some reporters asking, what’s the hold up? Recent reports have pointed out that since a lot of travelers forget to turn off their phones – and the planes don’t crash – the question about possible dangers of cells usage on planes may have already been answered. On the other hand, besides the media, do that many travelers actually want to talk on their cells on planes?

What about iPads – Can They Go through Security?

Do Passengers Really Want Cells on Planes?

According to a recent Pew survey, 88% of American adults have cell phones (and 46% say, these are smartphones) but apparently they can do without them for short periods.

Mary Frances Fagan of American Airlines spoke with FareCompare and said, “We’re really only hearing from people who don’t want cell phones on planes because they don’t want to hear other travelers’ conversations.” A look at several polls on the subject backs that up.

On the other hand, more and more people are texting instead of calling which is less of a nuisance perhaps but it’s not clear if limiting cell communications to texts would appease most flyers.

Where do you stand on cell phones on flights? We’d like to hear.


Published: October 4, 2012