FCC: In-Flight Phone Use Up to Airlines

After acknowledging that mobile technology does not interfere with flights

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Airlines will have the last word on in-flight phone policies, the Federal Communications Commission Chairman announced Friday, responding to backlash over the agency’s proposal to ease restrictions on mobile phones.

“We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes. I feel that
way myself,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said in a statement on the agency’s website. “Ultimately, if the FCC adopts the proposal in the coming months, it will be airlines’ decisions, in consultation with their customers, as to whether to permit voice calls while airborne.”

The FCC announced a proposal Thursday to loosen restrictions on cellphone use on flights, acknowledging that mobile technology does not interfere with flights. The proposal sparked criticism from some lawmakers who said the new policy would be disruptive.

Delta Air Lines plans to continue banning phone use regardless of a new FCC policy, while JetBlue said it would consider the option. Southwest, Alaska Airlines, American and United are monitoring feedback from customers, Politico reports.

The FCC scheduled a vote on the issue for Dec. 12.