Dept. of Transportation reviewing policy for in-flight calls

The Department of Transportation is reviewing its policies that blocks passengers from making calls while a plane is in the air.

The proposal still has a long way to go before anyone can talk on the phone on any flight.  Right now, the FCC bans cell phone calls on flights, but it doesn't say anything about making a call through wi-fi. That option could become a reality for some.                      

You can surf the internet or even watch your favorite movie while flying the friendly skies. But someday, you could be making phone calls too.

“I think it'd be a good idea,” said Tari Bents Axtell. “That way, you can let people picking you up at the airport know my flight's gonna be delayed or I'm coming in early.

The Department of Transportation is wading into what is now a gray area and considering a proposal that would require airlines and ticketing agents to notify passengers if making calls will be allowed on a flight.

Current regulations don't allow cellular calls on flights, but they don't yet restrict calls made over wi-fi.

Most major airlines do not allow any voice calls in flight. And don't expect to use the feature anytime soon on Delta, Southwest or American. All those airlines say they don't plan to change their current policies.

“It could be a little noisy,” said Bradley Girson. “I think they have a lot of other things they could do to make the flying experience better before they let us make calls over wi-fi.

Of the four major airlines FOX 4 contacted, United is the only one that is reviewing the possibility.

Airlines for America, a trade group representing several major carriers, has drawn a hard line against allowing any calls in flight.

"We have long held that this was not a matter for DOT to regulate, and we believe airlines should be able to determine what services can be safely offered in flight,” the group said.

The proposal has a few hoops to jump through with the Department of Transportation before becoming a reality. DOT is looking for public comment on this issue, whether or not a simple notice that calls are allowed is enough. To have your opinion included, you must submit it online at regulations.gov within 60 days.

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