Oh Hell No – Airlines May Soon Allow Cell Phone Service During Flights

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Picture this. You’re extremely hungover, exhausted from a night of drinking with some old buddies. Your morning Uber takes longer than expected, check-in at the airport is a disaster, you rush to get to the gate to barely board your flight in time.

You give out a loud sigh of relief. You close your eyes and get ready to pass the heck out for the next couple of hours

The plane takes off, you feel free, you feel comfortable (window seat always).

Suddenly… the woman next to you begins loudly cackling. Then the person behind you begins complaining to a coworker about their boss. In front of you there’s a father arguing with his wife over what dinner plans will be.

They’re not doing all this with the person next to them. But rather, over their cellphones.

Yes, this horror story may soon be coming to an airline near you as the European Commission voted this week to allow in-flight cell phone service in all European Union countries. If that wasn’t enough, they’re also allowing video games! Nothing like seeing a teenager flip out while playing Call of Duty or Fortnite!

Sounds like a lovely flight. The rollout is currently for EU countries only – but as with anything that is profitable, you can be sure that the U.S. won’t be too far behind. So yes, this will eventually affect Americans.

“Can you hear me now?” I don’t know, you’re 40,000 feet in the damn air couldn’t you have waited an hour before calling me?

The European Union will allow in-flight cell phone service beginning next year. (Photo by PATRICK T. FALLON/AFP via Getty Images)

SAY GOODBYE TO AIRPLANE MODE

The European Commission’s ruling will allows airlines to provide 5G technology rather than Wi-Fi or requiring passengers to pay for data access.

Under the new rules, airline passengers will be able to stream music, videos, games, access their apps – as well as make phone calls thanks to the 5G capabilities.

The ultimate goal is to allow European companies “growth opportunities,” according to EU Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton. “The sky is no longer a limit when it comes to possibilities offered by super-fast, high-capacity connectivity,” Thierry added.

Previously, certain frequencies had been reserved for airlines to use while in the air. The Commission’s new implementation now opens up certain parts of the ground-based 5G technology to be utilized during flight.

Young bearded man sitting inside an airplane and using a laptop. Male passenger using computer during flight.

THERE ARE SAFETY CONCERNS

Despite Europe now allowing phone calls beginning in 2023, the United States and the FCC have different regulations.

There has always been concern that any additional interference – from cell phones or other devices, could hinder the pilot’s navigation system frequencies. AKA, your safety would be at risk.

Earlier this year, chief executives from multiple major U.S. passenger and cargo carriers warned of an impending “catastrophic” aviation crisis due to AT&T and Verizon deploying new 5G service. They argued that the new C-Band 5G service could affect the safety of the aircraft. The FAA warned that the potential 5G interference could affect “sensitive airplane instruments” such as altimeters and technology that helps the craft in low-visibility operations.

The bottom line? Your next trip in London or Italy will be aggravating as people around you are yapping and yelling about everything.

Will we soon see in flight calls in America? In the immediate future I would say no. However, the lobbying power of companies realizing how much money can be made will no doubt have an affect on the eventual domestic rollout.

Which begs the question – if airlines do allow cell phone service, then where is the only place one can go to escape cell phones? I’ve even been to church and people are texting or someone’s phone is ringing. The beach isn’t safe anymore either. Phones are everywhere.

Cell phone service will soon be available on European flights. (Getty Images)

SO… IN CONCLUSION

If you make a phone call on your cell phone just for the hell of it while you are flying… yes, you are indeed an A-hole.

Written by Mike Gunzelman

Mike “Gunz” Gunzelman has been involved in the sports and media industry for over a decade. He’s also a risk taker - the first time he ever had sushi was from a Duane Reade in Penn Station in NYC.

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