FCC considers in-flight voice calls on U.S. airlines - KMSP-TV

FCC considers in-flight voice calls on U.S. airlines

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(KMSP) -

FCC commissioners are on Capitol Hill Thursday morning to discuss the possibility of allowing travelers to talk on their cell phones in-flight.

This would reverse a law that some say is outdated, but a recent study shows the idea isn't flying with most travelers. Many fliers fear their fellow passengers will subject them to long-winded conversations impossible to avoid at 35,000 feet.

The nation's largest flight attendant union opposes a change, saying cell phone use could lead to fights between passengers.

The FCC will officially start the debate Thursday at 10 a.m., holding the first of several meetings to review the agency's 22-year ban.

This proposal comes weeks after the FAA lifted its ban on using personal electronic devices such as iPads and Kindles below 10,000 feet, saying they don't interfere with cockpit instruments.

When it comes to in-flight calls, the FCC chairman says the calls are relayed first through a special system on planes that won't overload cell towers on the ground. As a result, he said, there's no reason the government should prohibit calls made from airplanes.

Most Middle East airlines and a few in Asia and Europe already allow voice calls on planes.

The Associated Press-GFK poll released Wednesday shows 48 percent of Americans oppose allowing cell phones to be used for voice calls while flying; just 19 percent support it. Another 30 percent are neutral.

So far, Delta is the only airline to come out and say they will not allow voice calls. They say years of feedback from customers show the majority of travelers want to keep the ban in place.

Several other carriers plan to study the issue and listen to feedback from passengers and crew.

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