FCC to consider cell phone calls on flights

Proposal would allow calls above 10,000 feet on specially equipped planes

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Air travelers could soon be able to use their cell-phones while flying. The Federal Communications Commission is considering relaxing it's 22-year-old rule.

Some people believe using their phones in the air will help them just in case there is an emergency or if there are sudden changes in their schedules. Others think using a cell phone on a plane, will be ruin their flight experience.

To be clear, passengers won't be able to use their phone during take-off or landing, but the FCC is considering allowing passengers to make phone calls while in flight, as long as the plane is above 10,000 feet.

Since 1991, the FCC has banned the devices over fear that cell phones would disrupt cellular towers on the ground. But now, the FCC announced that with the advancements in technology, making calls in the air, may actually be safe.

"I think on the one hand you have to protect passengers but on the other hand, you can't control everything and I think the government has gotten too involved in controlling passengers," said Edwin Thomas.

In 2004, the commission considered relaxing the rule but it never launched. Just last month, it announced passengers will be allowed to use iPads and other electronic devices, but not for calls or texts. The commission thinks the new proposal is an effort to give passengers the same opportunities to communicate as they would have riding a train or bus.

Anthony Phillips said his flight from Medford Oregon to Atlanta was delayed two hours. Using his cell phone in-flight would have helped him warn his brother about the changes.

"I just think it makes traveling a lot easier and more convenient for the passengers," said Phillips.

In a 2012 Delta Airlines Survey, 64 percent of passengers said cell-phone use in-flight would impact their experience negatively.

The FCC has put the proposal on the agenda for its meeting scheduled for Dec. 12. Even if the FCC approves the change in their meeting next month, it will still take months for anything to go into effect. There would have to be weeks of public comment, then a final draft of the actual rules. Planes would also have to be fitted with special antennas in order for phones to work in the air.

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