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FCC Gets On Board With In-Flight Phone Calls

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The days of shutting down cell phones from takeoff to landing may soon be behind us. Next month, the Federal Communications Commission will address the proposal to lift the ban on in-flight phone use, which they call “outdated” and “restrictive.”

Now that long-standing safety concerns have been debunked, the FCC is looking to join France, the UAE, Singapore, and a number of other countries already allowing in-flight calls. This comes on the heels of the FAA’s recent decision to drop restrictions on other personal electronics last month.

While the FCC is committed to staying up-to-date with current practices and technologies, opinion is split on whether this policy change is a good thing for flyers.

In a survey conducted by Delta Air lines, 64 percent of passengers said allowing in-flight calls would have a negative impact on their experience. Travel + Leisure International Editor Mark Orwoll agreed, calling the policy a frequent flyer’s “worst nightmare.”

Imagine enduring a 13 hour-long flight from Los Angeles to New Zealand, seated next to a Chatty Cathy who spends the duration of the trip recounting the intimate details of her weekend to a friend 35,000 feet below.

The FCC defends its right and responsibility to keep up with the times. But for many, this proposal looks like an opportunity for airlines to impose another charge, and for one of society’s few remaining frontiers of tech-free peace and privacy to be compromised.

Ultimately, airlines will make the decision whether or not to install the antennae that will enable callers to access cell service. And while an official policy change won’t happen overnight, it may be worthwhile to invest in a reliable pair of noise-cancelling headphones.

Melanie Lieberman is an editorial intern at Travel + Leisure.

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