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If gov’t backs in-flight calls, will the airlines?

November 23, 2013 • Business


FILE – In this Oct. 31, 2013, file photo, a passenger checks her cell phone before a flight in Boston. The Federal Communications Commission might be ready to permit cellphone calls in flight. Old concerns about electronics being a danger to airplane navigation have been debunked. And carriers could make some extra cash charging passengers to call a loved one from 35,000 feet. But that extra money might not be worth the backlash from fliers who view overly-chatty neighbors as another inconvenience to go along with smaller seats and stuffed overhead bins. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum, File)

NEW YORK (AP) — The Federal Communications Commission might be ready to permit cellphone calls in flight. But what about the airlines?

Old concerns about electronics being a danger to airplane navigation have been debunked. And airlines could make some extra cash charging passengers to call a loved one from 35,000 feet. But that extra money might not be worth the backlash from fliers who view overly chatty neighbors as another inconvenience to go along with smaller seats and stuffed overhead bins.

“Common courtesy goes out the window when people step in that metal tube,” says James Patrick II, a frequent flier from Newnan, Ga. “You think the debates and fistfights over reclining the seat back was bad. Wait until guys start slugging it out over someone talking too loud on the phone.”

That’s one of the reasons the country’s largest flight attendant union has come out against allowing calls in flight. The FCC is proposing to lift an existing ban, and airlines would have to decide whether to let passengers make calls. The ban would remain in effect during takeoff and landing.

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