Feds explore phone calls on flights

Posted at 2:54 PM, Dec 09, 2016
and last updated 2016-12-09 16:54:53-05

We all know that moment on the plane before you take off you're asked to end all calls on your cell phone. Soon, you may not have to do that. A new government proposal could allow you to make phone calls in flight.


Cellular calls are prohibited but WiFi calls aren't. And with advances in WiFi technology, the Department of Transportation says in-flight calls are more of a possibility.


"I think I'd have to try it out first," said airline traveler Aaron Kielman. "See how bad it really is. Kind of the same thing like with kids they can be loud but it depends on who you are."


This week the DOT proposed that airlines be required to tell all customers if airplane voice calls are allowed when they buy their tickets so customers could make other travel arrangements if they are concerned about being stuck sitting next to someone talking on the phone.


"i honestly don't really care as long as they are not being loud and obnoxious," says airline passenger Abigail Tate. "It doesn't really bother me."


But there are concerns beyond passengers being loud and obnoxious. The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA said anything short of a ban on calls is "reckless" and said flight attendants fear the calls could lead to fights.


"There are people that want to sleep," said airline passenger Roger Demeris.


Demeris says there may be a middle ground that can keep the experience of flying unique.


"I'd like to have it maybe on a few seats maybe," Demeris says.


But some things Demeris says are just a no.


"Business calls out," Demris says. "Out. Not necessary. No."


A 60-day comment period is underway right now. And there is still a possibility federal officials could ban calls on flights altogether. 


The U.S. Airlines trade group believes airlines should be able to decide what's best when it comes to in flight phone calls. Southwest and Alaska said they have no plans to allow voice calls, and Delta says they have opposed voice calls for several years.


United said it would review the proposal and see what customers and employees have to say about it.


You can comment on the proposal here.