Chicago Sun-Times
With Lori Rackl

Cell phone usage high in the sky

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Who hasn't wanted to make a cell phone call during a five-hour cross-country flight?

And who would want to sit next to the loud guy yapping away on his cell phone during a five-hour cross-country flight?

Some flights outside the U.S. are allowing cell phone usage (see Travel and Leisure story below), so it may just be a matter of time before it's widespread here, too.

Is that a good or bad thing?

Travel and Leisure article:

People chatting loudly on their cell phones on the street can be irritating, but now the guy in seat 12A may also be yapping away in the air. Airbus recently announced plans to install a system on its aircrafts that enables GSM cell-phone users to make and receive calls and text messages. (Providers such as Vodafone and T-Mobile are GSM-compatible.)

Where does it work? The service is currently available on 130-seat planes for short flights in Western Europe. Dubai-based Emirates will furnish its Boeing 777's with the technology later this year—which means that U.S. airlines can't be too far behind.

Is it safe? What about all those warnings to turn off electronic devices during takeoff? In fact, cell-phone use doesn't interfere with air traffic control communication when carriers follow guidelines set by the Radio Technical Commission for Aeronautics. That said, cabin crews will have the power to switch everyone's phones into a voice-off mode that allows only texting and e-mailing when necessary. For other times, there's always noise-canceling headphones.—Adam Baer

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This page contains a single entry by Lori Rackl published on September 19, 2007 4:35 AM.

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