December 19, 2013, 11:47 AM — Delta CEO Richard Anderson Wednesday told the airline's employees Wednesday that Delta will not allow cellular or VoIP calls during its flights, even if the Federal Communications Commission says it's okay. The FCC voted last week to seek public comment on whether to permit in-flight calls.
"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," Anderson said in the memo, which Delta has made public. "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."
Anderson added that Delta employees, and flight attendants in particular, are "definitively" not in favor of voice calls on flights. He also pointed out that Delta is not at all opposed to the recent expansion of portable electronics use to takeoffs and landings, as it was one of the first airlines to allow extended electronics use on its flights.
Delta isn't alone in resisting in-flight voice calls. Last week, JetBlue said it will enforce a ban on VoIP calling, backpedaling on an earlier statement that said flight attendants would handle these calls on a case-by-case basis. "We've heard from many customers, and the majority have shared that they do not want voice or video calls allowed onboard," JetBlue said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation has said it will try to ban in-flight calls even if the FCC moves forward, citing "concerns raised by airlines, travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress, and others."
The FCC appears to get the message, with Chairman Tom Wheeler saying that "I don't want the person in the seat next to me yapping at 35,000 feet any more than anyone else." The agency is more concerned with permitting in-flight calls on technical grounds, while still allowing the DOT and airlines to outlaw in-flight yapping.
In other words, the odds of enjoying some peace and quiet during your flight will continue to have more to do with whether there are babies on board than with rules and regulations.