Yesterday the Department of Transportation proposed rules that would permit voice calling on airplanes (over Wi-Fi, of course).The clock is ticking until we may have to say sayonara to tranquil flights and hello to the inescapable cacophony.
While the DOT hasn’t approved anything yet, and policies allowing voice calling may be still several years out, just the idea of a plane full of chatty Cathys is enough to make you cringe. Under the proposed rules, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, individual carriers will have the permission to offer in-flight voice calling — lifting the current voice calling ban.
And, I thought Skymall going bankrupt was bad…
Accountants need their peace
Since I am on a transportation kick, one faithful GC commenter mentioned last week when I discussed supersonic travel that “Typically, in-transit time was the only real break I could take from my workload… After you travel enough, you start to appreciate the mini-vacation that having to switch your phone to airplane mode affords.”
Isn’t that the truth. Granted, cozying up in a plane without any forced forms of communication doesn’t dissuade me from my excitement for supersonic flight. Especially, not if that mini-vacation turns into me getting stuck between two people yacking away at their phones.
At least the proposed rules stipulate that airlines would need to warn passengers before boarding that voice calling is permitted to “ensure air travelers are not unwillingly exposed” to the noise.
Hey, on that note, can the airline warn me if I will be exposed to obnoxious toddlers kicking my seat too?
Remember that MythBusters episode where they determined that cell phones do not interfere with the instruments on planes? Even though the show verified the so-called interference is a myth, airplane mode stuck around. Cell phones can only work while in range of a cellular tower anyway. According to CNN:
The maximum distance at which a phone can still make calls and send texts varies depending on the type of tower and transmitter, but an airplane would have to be no more than 10,000 feet in the air for any cell phones on board to still have a signal.
It appears that the Transportation Department decided it’s time drop the ruse (since it can’t pretend Wi-Fi calling will interfere with airplane instruments) and get serious about addressing the issue. But, it better prepare for the backlash:
Before the proposal could become official, DOT officials will analyze what is expected to be a torrent of public comments, many of which are likely to strongly oppose the idea of allowing phone calls in cabins.
While the outrage may be warranted our the current technological landscape, offering a way to make phone calls on planes is not exactly uncharted territory. Travel and Leisure noted, “Have we all collectively forgotten those back-of-seat phones that cost approximately $195.95 a minute?” Hey, it wasn’t that horrible back in the day, albeit seat phone was super expensive and that limited likelihood for idle chit chat.
Who knows, maybe it wouldn’t be as bad as we think?