Atlanta-based Delta Airlines have announced that they will not allow in-flight voice calls on their flights ahead of the impending final ‘vote’ by the FAA to lift the ban on cell phone usage.
In an internal memo, Richard Anderson, CEO of Delta said, ‘Last week the U.S. Federal Communications Commission voted to seek public comment in consideration of lifting its ban on in-flight cell phone use. Delta will not allow cellular calls or internet-based voice communications onboard Delta or Delta Connection flights.
Our customer research and direct feedback tell us that our frequent flyers believe voice calls in the cabin would be a disruption to the travel experience. In fact, a clear majority of customers who responded to a 2012 survey said they felt the ability to make voice calls onboard would detract from – not enhance – their experience. Delta employees, particularly our in-flight crews, have told us definitively that they are not in favour of voice calls onboard.
Delta has moved quickly when technological and regulatory breakthroughs provide opportunities to make flying better for our customers. That is why we were the first to file our plan with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to allow customers to use portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet. Similarly, if the FCC lifts its ban on cellular use in flight, Delta will move quickly to enable customers to use text, email and other silent data transmission services gate to gate.’
Since no decision has yet been reached on the proposed lift, it is still unclear whether passengers may yet be chatting about their journeys using in-flight voice calls – certainly, Mr Anderson has made Delta’s position clear on the subject.
Today, however, there is an ever-growing demand for cell phone use in-flight. Business aviation in particular experience high levels of expectation from their executive passengers as they operate the office-in-the-sky.
Industry-leaders, such as ARINC, offer high-speed passenger connectivity for emails and broadband, as an understanding within the industry realises the need to enhance cabin services, therefore increasing competition and allowing airlines to stay ahead of the game.
Many critics say that there is no real need for in-flight voice calls, with the level of connectivity now available in the cabin. It remains to be seen whether the ban will be lifted and it seems that opinion is divided. Maybe we will see ‘voice-call-seats’ or areas of the plane that will be designated ‘non-voice-call’ to be booked in advance like the years-old ‘non-smoking’ seats – the jury is still out on this moot point.