You'll Soon Be Able to Make Calls on EU Flights—Will It Be as Bad as It Sounds?

The airplane may be slowly losing its serenity

Man on plane with phone

Mongkol Chuewong / Getty Images

Are you old enough to remember a time before cell phones? Perhaps you remember that class of “new cellphone” owners who liked to announce they were using a mobile phone by projecting as if they were on a Broadway stage. While the novelty of cell phones has mostly worn off, many can still remember how it felt to be trapped in a small space with someone like this, and shortly, it may become a reality once more.

The European Union recently announced that airlines within the 27-nation bloc would soon allow passengers to use their phones to make calls, text, and access the internet while in the air. The EU has set a date of June 30, 2023, as a deadline for airlines to have 5G bands installed on aircraft ready for usage.

Phone calls are already available in parts of the Middle East and Asia, but in the U.S., the FCC has banned phone calls on planes since 1991, and this ruling will not affect that—for now. According to EU officials, a major driver for this change is that it will be crucial for businesses. “5G will enable innovative services for people and growth opportunities for European companies,” said Thierry Breton, EU Commissioner for the Internal Market, in a statement.

So, while you may be happy to end the time-honored tradition of setting your device to Airplane Mode before takeoff, will the tradeoff be a return to the obnoxious cell phone vocal abuser? The world has indeed shifted to a more text-based communication style with the advent of social media and texting, so the answer is not precisely clear.

The airplane, one of the few places in the modern world where you can escape the constant barrage of alerts, phone calls, and texts, may be slowly losing its serenity. Only time (and a few experiments) will tell if it will be as bad as it sounds.

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  1. Euro News. "You'll Soon Be Able to Use Your Phone on Flights In The EU. But Is That Really A Good Thing?" December 5, 2022.