Would Allowing Phone Calls On Flights Cause Cabin Chaos?

With the technology now in place to allow seamless mobile phone communication, would opening up the aircraft to voice calls be an innovation or throw the cabin experience into chaos?

A passenger is forced to make a phone call before entering the plane. Photo: Getty Images

What are the details?

With WiFi onboard aircraft becoming more and more common (I had consistent WiFi on my Singapore Germany to Asia flight the whole way, what a world!) it is only a matter of time until voice calls are also considered.

We have the technology in place to allow paid or free communication with your own device, with passengers tapping away at keyboards why not go the whole way and just let them now send voice messages and calls?

Turns out, there are several roadblocks that prevent aircraft from allowing voice calls.

JetBlue phone remote
Airlines already expect you to have a device and have the technology to operate phone communications. Photo: JetBlue

What are the roadblocks?

There are actually four major roadblocks in the United States to overcome before we see calls on flights. According to CNN Travel, these are flight attendants, public perception, concerns about safety and US law.

The first, flight attendants, are possibly the most vocal against the introduction of voice calls. They believe that it would throw the cabin into chaos with crew members fighting to get passengers to listen to them over their friend’s recap of the new Star Wars film.

You can imagine how alarming that scenario would be in an emergency situation, with passengers trying to call friends and families instead of taking the action that might save their lives.

“At the end of the day, our job is to evacuate an aircraft in 90 seconds or less,” Cassandra Michele Brown, a flight attendant who works for Frontier Airlines to CNN, “If you’re a passenger on my flight, no matter how good you might be at multitasking, you’re not going to be able to follow my step-by-step instructions to evacuate if you’re focusing on your phone.”

Additionally, these issues from the flight attendants are reflected by public safety concerns, US laws, and public perception.

British Airways, Boeing 787, Guide
Imagine trying to sleep with the noise of someone answering a call in the middle of the night. Photo: British Airways

Bottom Line

Lastly, I thought I’d discuss my own personal opinion on the matter. There is something special about being out of touch on an aircraft. You get a break from the world where you can sit back, watch a movie, read a book or watch the clouds go by. I like not being able to be reached.

Improvements to WiFi means now those who need to work can with text messages and emails, but let’s not spoil the remaining peace we have in the skies with loud chit chat debating what is going on far away and far below.

What do you think? Should people be allowed to have voice calls? Let us know in the comments.