A spokeswoman confirmed that the DOT is developing “a notice of proposed rulemaking” for publication in December. “At this point, there is no final determination” as to what the notice or the final rule will say, said another spokeswoman.
Regulators are focused primarily on the disruptive effects of voice calls rather than texting or other data use, having last year loosened restrictions that now allow airline passengers to use electronic devices for these purposes from gate to gate.
An official ban is needed because in late 2013 the Federal Communications Commission proposed to overturn the technical reasons that currently bancell phone calls in the air.
For their part, the carriers want to make their own rules deciding whether passengers can make calls during a flight:
“Airlines aren’t clamoring to allow mobile-phone use during flight, and some have already said they’d prohibit it on their own flights,” said Jeffrey Shane, general counsel for the International Air Transport Association, and a former senior Transportation Department policy maker. But Mr. Shane said some carriers may want to explore passenger-friendly ways to introduce calls, such as in-flight phone booths or quiet zones.
Is their anyone who thinks allowing cell phone calls on a flight is a good idea? Traveling is already stressful enough without having to hear the personal conversations of everyone else sitting in coach.