Airplane mode will be turned off: EU orders 5G availability on board planes
- December 11, 2022
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Switching our phones to airplane mode when boarding a plane is part of our pre-flight routine, as is going through security and buckling our seat belts. But EU member states have a new deadline to make 5G frequency bands available on planes: June 30, 2023.
Telephoning in the air would mean that passengers no longer cut themselves off from the outside world during the flight. In December 2022, the European Commission decided that network operators would be allowed to activate 5G technology in aircraft in addition to some mobile data from next year.
But is that a good thing? While talking on the phone while in transit is no doubt convenient for some people — especially on longer flights — there’s something quite nice about being absent from the real world while in transit. And does sitting next to someone on a business call make the already stressful travel experience even worse? We asked our well-travelled editors to weigh the good, bad, and ugly aspects of using the phone while cruising above the clouds.
Staying connected is a big plus
“I’ve always been a nervous flyer and spend most of my time in the air anxiously going through a million different things that could go wrong during and after the flight. Having my phone means I can quell any irrational fears and silly questions that pop into my head mid-flight (e.g. “What happens if the wing falls off?”). Also, I can keep in touch with everyone I meet at my destination, allowing me to plan schedules and ongoing transportation accordingly. I appreciate the benefits of having a phone-free zone on flights, but I think the benefits of staying connected in a world that’s becoming increasingly online will outweigh the cons.” – Olivia Morelli, Senior Digital Writer, UK
“Don’t get me wrong…I’m the first person to throw a disapproving look at someone on a flight who’s loud or just generally annoying (airplane seat kickers are in my room 101) so I want to make that clear while I’m in the ‘For’ Camp, this comes with a caveat: headphones If we can all agree to be kind and respectful to one another and – more specifically – to avoid speakers at all costs, I think having access to 5G during a flight would be a wonderful one Say goodbye to wasting time and money trying to connect to a dodgy airplane WiFi, to last-minute panicking about the email you forgot to send, and to realizing that You haven’t downloaded anything to watch your four-hour flight to Greece on Netflix (long enough to be incredibly bored, not long enough to warrant inflight entertainment gene). -ideal addition to what can already be a stressful environment, so maybe after security. Instead, airline staff could go through some “Rules for Kind and Considerate Passengers” to nip any bad phone etiquette in the bud.” Sarah Allard , Digital Editor, UK
Phone calls on the air cause more bad behavior
“My first reaction to the news that in-flight phone calls would soon be allowed was to wince. Sadly, a handful of travelers forget all the manners and general courtesy they would show those around them on solid ground — lying down, sitting down, kicking chairs, and acting as if they were in their living room and not surrounded by strangers. The ability to make phone calls on flights will be just another way for our fellow travelers to intrude on our personal space and peace while flying. Sure, I can see why some people might find it useful to stay connected during the flight – in case of an emergency, to reach family or an important dilemma at work is allowed – and the last thing we need, is sitting next to a businessman in a suit who has back-to-back calls that could definitely have been emails. Especially on shorter flights, there really are a lot of issues that are so urgent they can’t wait for you to land? In a world where we’re available 24/7, this change will eliminate one of the last acceptable reasons for disconnection.” – Sarah James, Assistant Digital Editor