Phones on a plane? No thanks

The Federal Communications Commission still thinks it’s time to end restrictions on making cell phone calls from airplanes. But the Department of Transportation has other ideas.

While the FCC has determined that the biggest concern phone calls interfering with the airplane’s electronic systems isn’t a worry anymore, the DOT is concerned about consumer protection. In other words, do we want a plane full of people yakking on cell phones during a three-hour flight?

A recent poll conducted by the Associated Press found that only 19 percent of responders support allowing cell phone calls from planes, while 48 percent oppose the idea. Another 30 percent were neutral. But the number of opponents grows to 78 percent among those who have flown four or more times in the past year.

Delta Air Lines is the only airline so far to expressly state that it will not allow voice calls on its flights, noting that customer feedback shows overwhelmingly that passengers want to keep the cell phone ban in place. Other airlines have said they will seek feedback from passengers and crews before making a decision.

We’re still not sold on the need to allow voice calls aboard airliners. Checking e-mail and text messages? No problem. But allowing full conversations during flights gives us cause for concern, and would serve as a constant reminder to make sure we bring headphones along on any flight we take.