Love it or hate it, chatting on your cell phone during a flight could soon become a reality.
The Federal Communications Commission is considering new rules that would allow passengers to make calls on their cell phones during flights.
“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules," FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement on Thursday. "I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA, and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.”
The proposal is already getting some pushback. The Association of Flight Attendants, a union representing flight attendants, issued a statement Thursday expressing concerns that in-flight calls would not only be disruptive to passengers, but unsafe.
"In far too many operational scenarios, passengers making phone calls could extend beyond a mere nuisance, creating negative effects on aviation safety and security that are great and far too risky," the union said. "Besides potential passenger conflicts, flight attendants also are concerned that in emergencies, cell phone use would drown out announcements and distract from life-saving instructions from the crew.”
Someone in Richmond, Va., has already launched a petition on a White House website against the proposed changes. The petition on the “We the People” site calls the proposal "the worst idea the FCC has come up with to date."
“This would make an already cranky, uncomfortable travel experience exponentially worse, and as a frequent flier and concerned citizen, I think the administration needs to nip this in the bud. Just because we CAN use our phones at 30,000 feet doesn't mean that we SHOULD be able to.”
An online petition needs 100,000 signatures in order for the White House to issue a public response. As of late Friday morning, 734 people had signed.
The news comes on the heels of several other important moves concerning device use on airplanes. Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration announced plans to permit airlines in the U.S. to allow passengers to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight. The European Commission followed suit with similar news and gave the green light to the use of 3G and LTE networks in flight.