Should Airplane Passengers Be Allowed To Make VoIP Calls?

Until now, airplane cabins have been blessedly free from idle phone chatter thanks to FAA regulations. Now, thanks to the introduction of wi-fi on commercial flights, it’s time to ask: should passengers be able to use Skype, Google Voice, or another VoIP service of their choice to make phone calls in the air?

Our gut reaction is “OH SWEET MERCIFUL MONEYCAT NO,” but not everyone agrees.

Americans are split about in-flight mobile phones, a survey by the Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics found. About 45% said cellphones should be banned on aircraft. About 40% said they should definitely or probably be allowed if they don’t pose a safety threat, according to the survey, which queried about 1,000 households.

A chief concern is the in-cabin noise level. Some fear that people may carry on long conversations on their cellphones. And people generally talk louder on cellphones because they can’t hear their own voices – unlike on landlines, which have a device that amplifies your voice and replays it through your earpiece.

For now, providers of in-air wireless Internet are blocking voice services, and passengers are finding ways around those blocks just as quickly. (One Consumerist reader reported that his in-air connection simply wasn’t fast enough to make a call—to airline customer service, naturally—via Skype.)

Should airlines let passengers make calls via Wi-Fi? [USA Today]

(Photo: Attempts at Photography)

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.