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Americans Divided On In-Flight Calls

There's a new study by the U.S. Department of Transportation that finds America is divided on whether to allow cell phone calls during flights. Not surprisingly, there is a vast difference in opinion depending on the age of the person you're asking.
There's a new study by the U.S. Department of Transportation that finds America is divided on whether to allow cell phone calls during flights. Not surprisingly, there is a vast difference in opinion depending on the age of the person you're asking.The report shows that 45.2% of respondents said cell phones definitely or probably should not be used on a plane. But 39.2% said passengers definitely or probably should be allowed to make calls during flights. The remaining 15% said they weren't sure.

But the report got interesting when it broke down the age of the respondents. Almost half (47.7%) of those between 18 and 34 were likely to support cell phone yakking at high altitudes, and 56.7% of those over age 65 said cell phone calls definitely or probably should not be allowed. Those 35 to 64 years old fell right in between.

So, what does it mean? I guess it helps to reinforce a few stereotypes -- specifically, the young whippersnapper without regard for his surroundings, and the older person who's scared of technology. Beyond that, it shows me that this debate is going to be long and loud.

This issue already has caught Congress' eye, as legislatures recently advanced the Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace (or the oh-so-clever Hang Up) Act, which would permanently ban in-flight calls. If this becomes law, the United States may soon find itself alone in the ban, though, as there's already a report of a Dubai airline that will allow mobile phone calls during flights, and it seems to have some reasonable limitations. Officials have made sure the plane's equipment won't be interfered with, and calls will only be allowed at certain times of the day.

The European Union is paving the way for passengers to make calls, send texts, and use e-mail from their mobile phones as well. Stateside, Delta Air Lines is readying its fleet with in-flight Wi-Fi, so it will just be a matter of time before VoIP technology is called into question.

I wish I knew the perfect solution to this, as I'm divided as well. On one hand, in-flight calls do offer convenience and a potential boost in productivity as long as proper precautions are taken to ensure no interference. It also can give the struggling airlines another potential revenue stream. But the prospect of a loudmouth jerk blathering away at 20,000 feet does sound like torture.

What's your take? Do you think the United States should keep up with the rest of the world and allow in-flight cell phone calls?