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Airline Passengers Prefer to Put In-Flight Cellphone Calls on Hold

While federal aviation regulators face mounting pressure to relax the ban on electronics use on commercial flights, passengers should not expect to use their cellphones anytime soon.

The reason is simple: Most fliers — and the airlines they fly — simply don’t want the distraction.

Nearly 1,500 customers who responded to a Delta Air Lines survey expressed overwhelming support for the use of smartphones for text messaging and entertainment while in flight. But more than 60 percent of respondents held very negative or somewhat negative views about allowing phone calls or videoconferencing on board.

The findings led Delta to tell the Federal Aviation Administration that it recommends allowing passengers to use all smartphone functions while planes are on the ground, but only sound-free activities throughout the flight.

Consumer comments collected by the FAA support that sentiment. While there was almost universal support for loosening the current restrictions on personal electronics use on aircraft, many respondents also expressed concern that allowing phone calls on flights could create more stress for passengers.

Outside the United States, the trend has been to allow expanded in-flight use of silent electronics while limiting the spread of voice communications. In Europe, the low-cost carrier Ryanair introduced voice cellphone service on a limited basis in 2006, but the program never produced enough return for the company to expand it.

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