In Flight Cell Phone Use Gets FCC Nod, Will Airlines Follow Suit?

In flight cell phone use has been deemed safe by the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) after years of belief that the practice would cause aviation instruments to go haywire, but the new embrace of reason — which we reported on last week — doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ll all be firing up Facebook and our Kindles on upcoming flights.

The in flight cell phone FCC opinion was handed down publicly last week, when the agency admitted that after many years of testing and speculating, it’s highly unlikely that you listening to Adele songs during your flight on an iPod or even taking a call on the plane will bring down an entire 747.

(And indeed, given the lax enforcement of such policies, the landscape would be littered with fallen passenger jets were there any safety considerations that actually bear out — despite the rules, many passengers sneak devices through takeoff or even forget to power down as the plane taxis.)

But while new in flight cell phone FCC suggestions have been put forth, airlines have not addressed the policies that prohibit such conveniences for travelers — the issue was actually put to bed in some regards as early as 2004, yet every plane journey begins and ends with the threat of arrest if you whip out an errant iPhone and settle in for a few rounds of Poppit as the plane meanders down the runway.

So why have the in flight cell phone FCC recommendations failed to take flight? TIME explains that as with many things, a lot of it comes down to dolla dolla bills, y’all:

“Part of the trouble is that neither the U.S. government nor airplane manufacturers have been willing to spend the money necessary to perform conclusive tests. That may finally be changing: In August, the FAA said it would review its policies on electronic device usage, and last week’s FCC letter references the FAA review, expressing support for the initiative.”


What’s different now is that we have in flight cell phone FCC recommendations in hand — and it’s up to the airlines to follow suit and lift the ban to make lengthy runway waits bearable. Do you think the airlines will take heed and allow passengers the use of personal electronic devices per the FCC’s new recommendations?