Delta, British Airways weigh in on in-flight calls

Last updated 10:19 19/12/2013

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Amid a debate over whether to allow in-flight cellphone calls, Delta Air Lines is giving one answer, loud and clear: No way, no how.

Atlanta-based Delta issued a statement reiterating its position against cellular calls on Delta or Delta Connection flights, even if the Federal Communications Commission changes regulations to allow them.

After the FCC said it would review its ban of in-flight cellular calls, some other airlines have also said their customers don't want such calls allowed.

But Delta said it is making the clearest, strongest statement that cell phone calls will not be allowed on its flights - with a determined wag of its finger.

"Even as technology advances and as regulations are changed, we will not only consider what we can do, but as importantly we will also consider what is right for our customers and employees," Delta Chief Executive Richard Anderson said in a memo to emplyees.

A survey last year of more than 1,400 Delta passengers showed 64 per cent of customers disapproved of or didn't like the idea of voice calls on the airplane.

That said, if the FCC lifts its ban on cellular use, Delta will "move quickly to enable customers to use text, email and other silent data-transmission services," Anderson wrote in the memo.

Meanwhile, British Airways is to become the first airline in Europe to allow their passengers to keep their phones and tablet computers switched on throughout their journey, the company said on Wednesday.

Although travellers will still not be allowed to text or make phone calls, the agreement with Britain's Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) lifts the current restrictions that require devices to be turned off until the aircraft is airborne and again when the aircraft is about to land.

Customers will, however, still have to put devices into ''flight safe'' mode, which disables texts, phonecalls and network access, the airline said.

Wednesday's changes do not include laptops.

Earlier this month the European Aviation Safety Agency said airlines would be able to introduce such changes subject to their own assessments.

"We know that our customers want to use their handheld electronic devices more, so this will be very welcome news for them,: said Captain Ian Pringle, flight training manager at British Airways.

"The easing of restrictions will provide an average of 30 minutes additional personal screen time."

Business travellers on BA's flights between London's City Airport and New York can already send texts and access WiFi. The changes will come in on December 19.

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- MCT and Reuters

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