The European Union (EU) decided to lift restrictions on in-flight cell phone use today. Passengers flying over European airspace will be able to talk, text and send e-mails with their cell phones. In-flight service may be available this year on some airplanes using European GSM technology. Most other countries around the world prohibit in-flight mobile use because of the fear cell phones may disrupt a plane’s instruments, even though there is little proof handsets actually interfere with a plane’s ability to safely fly.
The EU’s plan will allow cell phone users to make and receive calls through an onboard base station once the plane reaches 10,000 feet when other devices like music players and laptops are permitted. The cost for in-flight service has to be decided. There is concern that passengers talking on their cell phones may be irritating to other passengers so something has to be worked out so close quarters calling doesn’t interfere with everyone’s personal space.
“Almost everybody will want to use this service. We hope that also some people will still use the aircraft as a moment of tranquility and not disturb other passengers,” EU spokesman Martin Selmayr said.
I don’t fly much but I would like to see other areas of the world open up mobile phone usage while flying. Many passengers get nervous when flying and talking or texting on a phoned may help keep nerves calmer. I don’t want to sit close to someone who is loudly yakking away but rules can be set in place that will lower this possibility. In-flight calling may make air travel less stressful when there are delays or cancelation. If there is a cancelation or delay that comes up while in the air, a passenger can seek a hotel room or other accommodations before landing. Unless it can be proven that cell calls are a danger, there is no reason to ban them from flights.