Opposition to mobile phone chat on planes
- 22 November 2013
- From the section Technology
A proposal to allow mobile phone calls during commercial flights has met opposition.
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has suggested that passengers should be allowed to make calls once a plane reaches 10,000 feet.
But one petition against the idea said it would "make an already cranky, uncomfortable travel experience exponentially worse".
Calls would not be allowed during take-off and landing.
But the rule change would be the latest relaxation of guidelines on device use at airports and on aircraft.
Last month the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it would permit passengers to use gadgets such as tablet computers and e-readers during take-off and landing.
That decision was made after a review committee determined that most commercial aircraft can tolerate radio interference signals from such devices.
The technological ability to make calls in the air has been possible for some time, but it has not been widely adopted, mostly because of regulations not being updated.
Virgin Atlantic announced it would allow passengers to make calls on its flights between London and New York. However, calls would have to be ended within 250 miles of US airspace.
FCC chairman Tom Wheeler said it was time to bring regulations about making calls up-to-date as well.
"Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules," he said in a statement.
He heralded "new mobile opportunities for consumers".
But others do not see it that way. The Washington Post reported that "hundreds" of emails had been sent to an FCC commissioner after the announcement.
The petition, posted on the White House website, began building momentum on Friday morning.
"During flights, passengers are forced into a restricted space, often for long periods," the petition reads.
"Forcing them to listen to the inane, loud, private, personal conversations of a stranger is perhaps the worst idea the FCC has come up with to date."