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DOT Weighs Inflight Cell Phone Use

Wanna start a war? Three words: inflight cellphone calls.

The very prospect of a five-hour flight surrounded by incessant cellphone chatter is enough to raise blood-pressure levels and spark heated exchanges.

The FCC has signaled that it has no objection to cell calls, but airlines, whether or not they favor allowing such calls, are allied in their opposition to any new regulations limiting their options.

The Association of Flight Attendants has called for an outright ban on inflight cell calls. Several airline CEOs have pledged it will never happen on their planes. A no-call bill has been introduced in Congress. And consumer feedback to the FCC has overwhelmingly opposed cell conversations.

For all the attention the issue is receiving from regulators and legislators, it has remained an open question whether any definitive action was forthcoming, and from whom.

But resolution may finally be in the pipeline. According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Department of Transportation is in the process of formulating a notice of proposed rulemaking that would be the first step in banning inflight cell calls outright.

The notice would be published in December, followed by a period during which public comments are solicited and considered.

The DOT has already signaled its general opposition to inflight cell use on safety grounds, in particular that it would distract passengers from attending to routine safety announcements and flight crew instructions in emergency situations.

Reader Reality Check

Would inflight cellphone use make air travel more or less unpleasant than it already is?

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This article originally appeared on

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