Are cell phone calls on airplane flights inevitable?

This article is over 5 months old Acting secretary of the Department of Transportation proposes new rules on liability of cellphone users Are cell phone calls on airplane flights inevitable? The Department of Transportation…

Are cell phone calls on airplane flights inevitable?

This article is over 5 months old

Acting secretary of the Department of Transportation proposes new rules on liability of cellphone users

Are cell phone calls on airplane flights inevitable?

The Department of Transportation on Thursday proposed new rules on liability for cellphone users who make calls on planes.

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A recent study by the Transportation Department’s Aviation Rulemaking Advisory Committee found “limited ability” to regulate cellphone use for flights as a class of aircraft, but suggested regulations should apply to flights on Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

If the department issues a final rule on Thursday, it would prohibit the use of cellular or Wi-Fi-connected phones while an aircraft is flying at less than 10,000 feet. Violators could face fines of up to $175,000.

“Cellphone calls on aircraft could result in interruptions in the passenger experience or an increase in congestion caused by calls to other cellphones and locations,” acting secretary Ronald Batory said in a statement.

The proposal comes in the wake of a lawsuit last month filed by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders that sought to prohibit passengers from using cellular phones while aboard airplanes.

After the ruling was announced on Thursday, Sanders said that airlines could still sell tickets for “more expensive full service seats with no radio frequencies that go through planes”.

A slew of newer, luxury airliners on the market offer no-phones-allowed seats that passengers can purchase. In the event that regulation mandates phones be allowed on planes, those kinds of seats may become more popular.

Other proposals submitted by the transportation department included creating a database of cellphone calls that passengers in coach class can use to determine how many calls passengers have made while on flights and limiting those numbers to those made while in designated “call waiting” areas.

Airlines that currently offer no-phone policies could find themselves at odds with the new rule. In a statement released on Thursday, Alaska Airlines executive president Kevin Schuler said the company “did not support this rulemaking process”.

American Airlines responded that the airline is “always open to further discussions”, while United said it is currently reviewing the proposed rule.

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