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Airlines resist call to relax in-flight device rules

Posting in Technology

Airlines are resisting changes to in-flight device rules that have been labeled "outdated" by U.S. regulators.

Currently, airlines will not let you make calls in-flight, and you are required to either turn off or make sure your electronic devices are on 'flight mode' during take-off and landing -- even though the legal standing on this practice has recently been relaxed. However, U.S. federal regulators said Thursday that these rules are "outdated" and need to be loosened in the name of consumer expectations, which has drawn immediate protests from airline officials and flight attendants.

In a statement, Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said the agency was proposing new rules which allowed in-flight access to mobile broadband. The chairman said the "time is right to review outdated and restrictive rules," especially as modern-day devices are safe enough to use on planes.

However, flight attendants and airline officials have other ideas. They are concerned that if passengers are allowed to use the Web and make calls, talking passengers would not only be a nuisance, but could undermine safety on board.

In a statement, the Association of Flight Attendants said:

"The FCC should not proceed with this proposal. AFA opposes any changes that would allow in-flight voice calls. Flight attendants, as first responders and the last line of defense in our nation’s aviation system, understand the importance of maintaining a calm cabin environment. Any situation that is loud, divisive, and possibly disruptive is not only unwelcome but also unsafe.
Besides potential passenger conflicts, Flight Attendants also are concerned that in emergencies, cell phone use would drown out announcements and distract from life-saving instructions from the crew."

Via: Skift 

Image credit: Airbus

— By on November 22, 2013, 3:02 AM PST

Charlie Osborne

Contributing Editor

Charlie Osborne is a freelance journalist and photographer based in London. In addition to SmartPlanet, she also writes for business technology website ZDNet and consumer technology site CNET. She holds a degree in medical anthropology from the University of Kent. Follow her on Twitter. Disclosure