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Delta CEO Issues Company-Wide Memo Banning in-flight Calls

Have you ever had the misfortune of sitting in the vicinity of an incorrigible cellphone user, unable to escape the sound his or her incessant chatter? Well, if you fly Delta Airplane, you’ll never have to experience that kind of annoyance on an airplane. Today, CEO Richard Anderson issued a company-wide memo preemptively disallowing cellular and internet-based voice communications onboard Delta or Delta Connection flights.

The decision comes in light of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) solicitation of public comment about the possibility of lifting a years-old ban on in-flight phone use. Not shockingly, Delta found the sentiment among customers and employees regarding voice calls overwhelmingly negative:

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 favor of voice calls onboard.

What does that mean for cellphone usage more broadly? Texting addicts can breath a sigh of relief, because Delta said should the FCC lift the ban on cellular use in flight, the use of “silent data transmission services” will be permitted. Just don’t expect to use your Bluetooth earpiece at 10,000 feet anytime soon.

Via: Delta
  • Way to deny the future, Delta.

  • Jason Spangler

    This reminds me of the old Nextels….I hated listening to the chirp and then peoples conversations. Take it off speakerphone already!!! I only fly 6 or 8 times a year. I can handle not talking for a few hours. Do I text and do email? Yes I do. And thanks to GoGo Inflight not fixing the google DNS security flaw, I can email and text as much as I want for free on my Android phone.

  • djdsf

    Here’s some math and facts from your friendly neighborhood pilot:

    Unless you are over a highly populated area (NYC, MIAMI, LA, ETC) you lose phone signal at around ~5,000 ft and even then, it’s really spotty service hinging on around 1 bar (AT&T & Sprint tested first hand, Verizon is about the same but with a little more coverage from what I’m told.) Our planes don’t have much in the way of insulation or shielding and all this other stuff, we can actually stick our hands out the window. It’s a lot harder for you to get signal inside a jet airplane with all the other stuff they have, so let’s lower that range of ~5,000 ft to ~3,000 ft. Inside bigger airports, usual max speed in the air is about 250 knots which is about 288 miles per hour, or 460 Kilometers per hour. To avoid disturbing people that live near airports, most have noise abatement procedures, so you end up climbing from 0ft to about 4,000 – 7,000 in say 2 minutes max?

    So with all of that, anyone can see that you can only probably make a 2ish minute call before your phone losses signal? And VoIP does not help ether. Delta uses GOGO which is still based on their old system that will not be rolling out till half way of 2014 and even then it will be to only 10 planes in the whole fleet, so the whole airplane mid flight actually gets 12Mb/s shared by all passengers, so VoIP is out of the question (That’s also the reason you can’t watch Netflix through them, because if you could. the internet would come to a screeching halt in less than 10 seconds.

    Is this a good move? Yes, but not really a needed one. It’s just PR by Delta so they can say that they “Listen to the costumers”

  • Cedarson

    I might start liking Delta again.

  • Pakmann2k

    There should be exceptions to the rule, I hope. Why? You ask? Ever been in a plane that was diverted? I have. When you land 300miles from your destination and your family is sitting in the car at the airport you were supposed to land at, that’s not adding to my experience either. I am not saying to allow everyone, every time, I am just saying their should be some common sense exceptions.

    • Pakmann2k

      In case you are wondering. My family was waiting at my hometown airport watching the flight info boards. 99/100 times when a flight diverts, the screen just shows delayed. We were circling phoenix during some bad weather and were unable to land. They took us to Vegas to refuel and we gassed up and headed back. After and hour circling and then an hour to Vegas, I finally was able to call my wife when we landed in Vegas 2hours after I was supposed to be in Phoenix.

    • AxemRed

      That’s when you just sneak off to the bathroom and break the rule. Or text.

  • schoat333

    Good. This is the way it should be.

  • frank-law

    I made a call years ago using t-mobile black berry and gogo wifi. It
    was in airplane mode with the mobile radio off. Legal? Many devices
    can now make voice calls. The airlines were all for voice calls on
    board a few years ago when they could make money by offering the
    service. Lets just ban talking on planes.

  • jaymonster

    Am I the only one that still remembers when all planes had “AirPhones” in them? The airlines weren’t worried about the “in flight experience” or what the customers or employees thought when they were pulling in $10/minute for it. I bet if they could find a way to bill you for it, then they would happily take your money and decide that it is only a “minor inconvenience”

    • David

      I remember them, and I don’t think I can ever remember seeing them used. Who would, at $10/minute? Not the average joe back in economy.

      • anna willoughby

        I called my dad on one of those once as an unaccompanied minor. He was not the happiest man alive when I did that. Bwahaha.

      • jaymonster

        Who used them is inconsequential, the fact that they were making money on them meant that at that time they didn’t see a problem or give a damn what otherpassen or the flight crew thought. But NOW they are concerned… When the profit reasonine is gone.

  • C-Law

    I’ve never had to make a phone call on a plane but I still can’t see why this is a big deal. Are people that talk on planes really that loud and obnoxious? I can’t see myself caring if the person next to me was on a phone call.

    • nopenope

      If you notice from the quote from Delta, they care about frequent flyers and not casuals. If I have to spend 500 dollars on a flight (I don’t as I have an immediate family member who works as an airline pilot, but for the others that do) I don’t want crying children, drunk people, or obnoxious talkers.

  • Idk why people are so against people talking on phones in the air, just wear headphones and you can’t hear the person talking next to you. Problem solved. I for one can’t get on an airplane without headphones locked in.

    • CoreRooted

      Because there are times when even headphones can’t silence someone yelling into their phone “CAN YOU HEAR ME???!!!”.

      • Never had an issue, always gotta take my headphones off to hear people speak. If not, I just see their lips smacking.

        • CoreRooted

          I’ve run into it at the gate where some person is sitting there telling the person they are talking to that they have to get on the flight OR (even worse) seated and still talking after the door has been closed. It’s just as bad as people sitting on their phones in a restaurant. :-

          • anna willoughby

            Wait, what? In a restaurant? Is that a problem? I don’t think I’ve ever noticed someone (at least, someone not at my own table) on a phone in a restaurant.

          • CoreRooted

            MANY times… It’s annoying as hell… I was out the other night with a friend and actually saw a girl,on what appeared to be a date, and chatting with her friend while her “date” sat there looking around the restaurant. She was talking loudly enough that people were giving her dirty looks from 2 and 3 tables over. Many restaurants now a days have started implementing no cell phone rules.

          • anna willoughby

            Wow, I guess most of the restaurants (even the nice ones) I go to are more directed toward a relaxed kind of atmosphere, so there’s always enough conversation and other things going on I’m not really paying attention to other people’s activities. It’s not that I am not aware of people using phones in the area, I just DGAF. I mean, unless they’re being louder than a regular conversation, it’s not really any of my business what the person at the next table is talking into (phone, boyfriend’s face, dinner roll). If they’re being that loud on a phone, that’s just regular rudeness. Don’t ban the phone, just boot the jerk shouting into it.

            *Note: I think being on the phone when you should be ordering or paying the check is pretty rude, put the phone down or go out of the way so the waiter doesn’t waste people’s time.

          • CoreRooted

            I agree 100% on all counts. Restaurants I’m not all that concerned with to be honest. I normally don’t pay attention unless I have to raise my voice to be heard over them (true story, has happened on a couple of occasions).

            Flying, on the other hand, bugs the hell out of me. It’s bad enough being crammed into a small, metal tube with dozens of people you don’t know (or don’t want to know), but then having to endure the idiot next to you screaming into his phone about business or whatever the conversation is… Meh. Pass.

      • TopXKiller
    • gunslinger

      well, i was on a 40 minute puddle jump at like 7pm one night. cramped CRJ200. the guy next to me had his laptop out, briefcase, and papers out trying to work…on a 40 minute flight. seriously. i don’t need him yapping on his cell phone while trying to type in excel or make a power point.

      aso for the 10/min air-fone how may people acutally used them? notmany. if any bubba can use his cell phone at 40k, can you imagine?

      • Maybe we should ban babies from flying too cause they’re more annoying when they cry. Talking on the phone isn’t really any different than people holding a conversation on the plane. I don’t want to hear other people talking so that’s why I said bring headphones and zone out then talking isn’t an issue.

        • gunslinger

          as a former business traveler, i say ban the babies. i mean, really do you need the 5-7am monday flight? or the late sunday flight?

          and as for talking, there is a smaller pool of people to talk to, and an even smaller pool of topics. ever been on the street and hear people talking about their last doctor visits (and graphic detail of procedures) or any other number of personal issues? sorry.

          • zionlion02

            I completely agree with you. In fact, I’m waiting for some brave airline to form a “business traveler only” flights/service. I’m thinking somewhere along the lines of it being a little more expensive, sure, but then age limits of post college, wifi connectivity on all, etc. Business people would gladly pay a little more to avoid the terrible travelers and babies. And the slightly higher cost would keep the bad travelers on Southwest and whatever was cheapest. Getting on and off the plane would be much quicker because you wouldn’t have the klutzes with a hundred oversized carryons trying to cram them in and out of overheads. I realize people don’t always fly and travel much, and that’s OK. But in an adult sports league, there are different levels for the inexperienced. Why not here too? It’s the worst on red-eyes as well with babies. That’s just awful, and it’s not the baby’s fault by any means. Poor little guys don’t know what’s going on.

  • Intellectua1

    Thank god, I don’t wanna hear anybody’s call on a plane..

  • jamisles02

    I agree with Delta on this. While the technology is there now to be on your cell phone while in flight, doesn’t mean you should. Last thing I want is to be sitting next to someone on a cross-country flight who is on their phone their phone the whole time screaming and hollering. I compare this to movie theaters. Yes, your cell phone can work here, but you’re not aloud to use it because it might disrupt the people around you. Playing a movie or game on your phone/tablet with ear-buds or headphones is fine, I do it too, but I don’t want to hear you talk for 5 hours about your stock trades, who burnt the roast or how you haven’t seen them in 2 days and going insane.

  • S9779

    Good call by the company. You simply cannot rely on common sense and courtesy from others anymore.

    • Cowboydroid

      You simply cannot rely on common sense and courtesy from others anymore.

      I wonder why…

      And what does that say about the future of humanity?

  • James Vincent

    use your phones however you want. But keep them on silent and no to voice & video calls

    • anna willoughby

      I think for the deaf, mute, and mimes of the world video calls would be acceptable.

      • James Vincent

        That is a fair point there. That should be taken into consideration & I certainly wouldn’t argue against that. But I would state the obvious, please use a set of earphones. I hope the airlines take this into consideration

  • Chris Brunetto

    Who gets service on airplanes anyway? I can’t remember one instance in which I turned on my phone mid-flight and have had service.

    • Aaron

      If the flight has WiFi one could use IP calling

      • FknTwizted

        They are building wifi into the new planes and retrofitting the old…. I’m glad about this because damn annoying to hear someone chat on their phone because most people don’t know how to volume down their voice when using a freaking phone… its like they go up octave goes up 200% as if they are still using phones from the 90’s. I am glad they are allowing text messaging and wifi into the planes.

    • Jordan Webb

      I’ve actually gotten LTE service while in-flight. I was impressed.

  • WAldenIV

    Hooray for common sense!

    • StuckOnVerizonForever

      If people cant go 2 hours or so without a phone, theyve got a problem

      • lkl

        Just a case of the internet making people think they are more important than they are. Everyone has a blog, youtube channel, MyFace, etc that allows them to say whatever comes to their feeble minds. They think this fact makes their thoughts (sic.) worth hearing, and so respect for their fellow man goes out the window because he doesn’t have as many followers as they do.

        • BillySuede

          are you including yourself? considering the fact you are commenting on a blog about smartphones by which it’s fair to assume you access the web a fair bit with use of your smartphone.

          • thanks though

            Herpderp BillySuede. Just because most apply to the statement doesn’t mean all do.

          • BillySuede

            you didn’t make that distinction apparent in your initial post. no shots.

      • anna willoughby

        …2 hours or so? Most places worth going from where I live are 4-7 hours.

        That said, this is a common sense decision. Silent communication FTW!

        • michael arazan

          From DFW to Hawaii 8 1/2 hours, from the center of the US to both coast is 4 hours for me. But the average plane flight is over 20,000 feet, so it doesn’t matter anyways. The airplane flys in an arc in the air to get where it’s going faster, and you are over 10k in under 10 minutes anyways. As long as you can play music, games and view stored videos, who cares, that can all be done in airplane mode. And better than paying $5 for their headphones and watching their crapping movies and music.

          • anna willoughby

            From OH – CA it’s about 7 hours, from my experience. NY is usually anywhere from 2-4 depending on the wind. Same with most of the East Coast.

            I’m not saying I NEED to be able to do these other things that require me to leave airplane mode…but since it doesn’t interfere with the communications or nav systems, there is zero reason why I shouldn’t be able to, if I have good service on that flight, stream Netflix with T-Mobile’s help instead of paying ridiculous prices for WiFi.

  • Dan

    Was this an issue? Since when was this not already banned?

    • Jordan Webb

      The FCC is talking about (or did? Not sure) lifting the ban on using cellphones in-flight. That would mean messing around on smartphones as well as traditional voice calls. Delta’s just nipping it in the bud saying “Sure, you can use the internet, but keep your mouth shut. Nobody wants to hear Important Business Man #3 yell at someone about stocks or a missed deadline.”

      • PPLyo

        The FCC can make anything they want legal, the FAA has authority over all American civil aviation.