The DOT has proposed new rules that will require airlines to warn passengers at the time of booking if phone calls will be allowed on a specific flight.
The use of mobile phones is still banned on nearly all US commercial flights, but the US Department of Transportation (DOT) has already ruled that current regulations do not cover technology that allows passengers to make voice calls through inflight wi-fi services offered on some flights. The agency has signaled that rather than creating a new ban, the decision on whether or not voice calls are allowed will be left up to individual carriers.
The DOT is, however, offering new rules that will potentially help passengers to identify and potentially avoid flights on which passengers are permitted to use mobile phones inflight. The agency asserts that as inflight wi-fi improves and becomes more prevalent, it will tempt more and more passengers to make phone calls inflight. According to the DOT proposal, “allowing voice calls, without providing adequate notice, would be an unfair and deceptive practice.”
“Consumers deserve to have clear and accurate information about whether an airline permits voice calls before they purchase a ticket and board the aircraft,” US Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said in a statement announcing the proposed new regulations. “Today’s proposal will ensure that air travelers are not unwillingly exposed to voice calls, as many of them are troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight.”
The proposal came about as a result of the public comment period on a separate proposal to relax prohibitions on mobile phone use in flight. The prospective rule that would require airlines operating under US jurisdiction to warn passengers that they may be purchasing tickets on a mobile phone permitted flight is also open to a 90-day public comment period. The flying public can comment on the Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) at www.regulations.gov, referencing docket number DOT-OST-2014-0002.