The largest expert travel community:
  • 735,558 Total members
  • 5,341 Users online now
  • 1,673,898 Threads
  • 30,110,718 Posts

Should More Airlines Let You Make In-Flight Cell Phone Calls?

Should More Airlines Let You Make In-Flight Cell Phone Calls?
Meg Butler

Should more airlines let you make cell phone calls? Perhaps a more important question is “do you want your seat mate to spend the entire flight to Vegas on the phone with their bff?”

Nielsen recently surveyed 8,000 airline passengers in 10 key travel markets around the world and found that around half of Americans say “Yeah, as long as I can make calls too.”

For the rest of the world, the desire to stay connected even while you’re in the air seems to be split along country lines. A little more than half of French, German, Japanese, Swedish and British passengers surveyed said that they’re happy not being able to use their phones while on a plane.

An overwhelming 88% of Indian and 82% of Chinese passengers said that staying connected during a flight is not only important to them, but they’d be willing to pay more for the privilege.

For those who haven’t been keeping up to date with airline regulations, cell phone use is no longer considered dangerous. That leaves the argument for and against the use of cell phones down to noise pollution. Should you allow passengers to make important or emergency phone calls in flight and run the risk of spending a three hour flight next to a Chatty Cathy?

The world still seems largely divided. In the mean time, you can check here to see which airlines allow cell phone use and which do not.


A few other findings by the Nielsen survey:

  • The British are the most likely to be bothered about waiting in line at the airport check-in; Swedes are the most chilled
  • Having a range of inflight films, music and audio-books on offer matters most to customers from the U.S., India and the U.A.E.
  • Japanese flyers are the least keen on hearing updates from the pilot, whereas people from India and South Africa lap up progress reports
  • Fast, free Internet access is globally desirable but especially popular in China, South Africa and the U.S.


To read more on the topic, head to Bloomberg.

H/T View From the Wing

View Comments (20)


  1. AzMtnBkr

    July 17, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Oh please, no. It’s bad enough having to deal with loud and obnoxious people on their cell phones in cafes, waiting areas, lounges and even aboard the aircraft as that very important person gets in the last minute call. Let air travel be as quiet as possible. It’s bad enough with the noises generated by service animals, children and obnoxious adults. No need for phone calls, too.

  2. secondsoprano

    July 17, 2018 at 5:12 pm

    No. No. Oh dear god, no. I will check out the list of airlines which allow it, and avoid them at all costs.

  3. am1108

    July 17, 2018 at 7:28 pm

    I don’t need to hear 8 people around me yak about 8 different things at the same time when Im either trying to enjoy a movie or go to sleep.

  4. drvannostren

    July 17, 2018 at 8:06 pm

    Internet on planes…good. Phone calls…bad. The “tell bill we met the numbers, when I get to Toronto I’ll get on the conference call with the team so we can all discuss the numbers” in the lounge is bad enough, the last thing I want is to have that same crap on the plane.

    I would avoid flights that offer this also.

    It would only be a matter of time before business class people started complaining about other business class people who were on their phones too. Let’s just keep it off limits. I’m in favour of free whatsapp/google chat or whatever else, I read DL lets you do that free, I don’t fly DL currently, but that’s an appealing bonus.

  5. jjmoore

    July 18, 2018 at 2:54 am

    Is it even possible to make a phone call in the air, unless you have a satellite phone? The internet connections on most aircraft are slow at best, and certainly not capable of live voice or video streaming. Trust me… I have tried it, and have only been on one flight with an internet connection capable of handling it.

  6. kayun

    July 18, 2018 at 4:49 am

    Please no. I beg of you. Just the bus trip from downtown to the airport means listening to people’s lives and their friend’s lives. My last trip from downtown Los Angeles to LAX meant listening to a college student talk loudly about the sex/dating life of her fellow sorority sister for an hour. Don’t want that for more hours in the air.

    Not to mention these folks will be even less ready for in-flight service and just take more time.

  7. justpassinthru

    July 18, 2018 at 8:40 am

    Allowing cell phone calls will be the quickest way I know to get me to drop my loyalty – several years of top tier status will not be worth sitting next to someone on a cellphone… I will immediately switch to whomever keeps them banned.

  8. secondsoprano

    July 18, 2018 at 7:44 pm

    “The world still seems largely divided.”

    Flyertalk clearly isn’t!

  9. chris19992


    July 19, 2018 at 4:36 am

    Hmm, a recipe for more in-fight service then.

  10. 60triumph

    July 19, 2018 at 4:39 am

    Please no I have sat next to people who have talked on their phone nonstop during boarding. We’ve all seen them – some talking at the volume of a jet engine during take off. I can’t imagine sitting next to them for a 4 hour flight to the west coast. Seats are not private spaces. I am a frequent flyer but would not fly on an airline that allows cell phone conversations on a flight.

  11. dezsr5

    July 19, 2018 at 4:46 am


  12. wanderer35

    July 19, 2018 at 4:47 am

    “Should you allow passengers to make important or emergency phone calls in flight ”
    What emergency calls?
    What is the person going to do if s/he gets an emergency call? Jump out of the plane over the ocean to swim to the emergency? What possible emergency could be taken care of over the phone hundreds/thousands of miles away?

    You have a possible emergency situation coming up? Take care of providing coverage for it before leaving for a trip.

    Last, but not least, PLEASE do not allow cell phone calls on planes.

  13. rjlon

    July 19, 2018 at 5:25 am

    I liked the old way with airplanes that used high charges to limit the nuisance factor. I would prohibit calls not using airplane, the means no cell calls and no VoLTE. Otherwise you hike the rates so that any decent speed that would support voice calls has a very high premium but that punished those who just want to download emails or work on a powerpoint.

  14. Baracuda618

    July 19, 2018 at 6:11 am

    Oh please no, no, no. I really don’t need to hear about so and so’s love life or somebody’s meeting gone awry while I’m in the air. Texting may not be so bad…but definitely not talking.


    July 19, 2018 at 7:22 am

    It’s not surprising at all. Fake news spearheaded by the flight attendants union would have you believe that most people are against it. When planes are at the gate and when planes land people use phones at all and I’ve never heard anyone complain about it. It’s a non-issue. On the other hand there are issues with legroom, lack of meals on long flights and inaccurate status updates being given when flights are delayed. The proposed FAA reauthorization bans cell phone usage on flights and this is overreach. Federal laws should never be used to ban speech unless it’s dangerous, which we know is not the case with VOIP calls using Wifi on a plane.

  16. kkua

    July 19, 2018 at 3:23 pm

    Please make it cost prohibitive enough so people will reserve it only for emergencies.

  17. Mort

    July 20, 2018 at 5:38 am

    BMGRAHAM wrote: “When planes are at the gate and when planes land people use phones at all and I’ve never heard anyone complain about it. It’s a non-issue.”

    I disagree completely. It drives me nuts.

  18. hervepa

    July 21, 2018 at 6:32 pm

    Just NO!!!!!!!
    And forget the cost-prohibitive!
    Then we’ll just have the incredibly annoying business poobahs conversations.
    If peoplecan’t stay out of touch for a few hours, then don’t fly!

  19. 2stepbay

    July 24, 2018 at 1:22 am

    I have no problem with cell phone use on a plane as long as users have duct tape over their mouth. 😉

  20. Gandoon

    July 27, 2018 at 9:24 am

    I may go against the stream here, but I really don’t mind. I am European and I have no major issue with people talking on phones on busses or trains here, so I am certain I wouldn’t mind it on an airplane either. For those of you not from this end of the world and are unfamiliar with our air services, it is worth remembering that most of the flights within Europe are shorter than 3h, most below 2h in the air, so the inability to make a phone call during airtime is largely a non-issue. Nevertheless, the amount of actual talking on phones on public transport does not strike me as a huge thing… people tend to do a lot more telegraphy these days (SMS/iMessage/Whatsapp/Wechat/[insert application of choice here]) than actual voice calls anyway, which is far less intrusive. A well functioning network connectivity (preferably complimentary) is far more likely to keep the chattier people docile since they can be absorbed into their devices. E.g. Norwegian offers in-air network on many of their flights and that is quite an added value (when it works). That type of service would actually be a selling point for me. What is more disturbing to me is the occasional inconsiderate that puts on a video or music without headphones, but that would probably be less of an issue on a flight due to the already noisy environment (they may be less likely to try it if they can’t hear what is happening on the screen).

You must be logged in on the FORUM to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

More in Airlines

Norwegian Accused of Reneging on Lounge Access Promise

Jeff EdwardsJanuary 16, 2019

Emirates Says Dubai Flights Will be Canceled Due to Maintenance

Jackie ReddyJanuary 15, 2019

Virgin Atlantic Will Triple Its Fleet with This Acquisition

Jennifer BillockJanuary 15, 2019

Copyright © 2014 Top News Theme. Theme by MVP Themes, powered by Wordpress.