On Monday, Dubai-based Emirates Airlines said it will now allow passengers on its A380 aircraft to use cell phones during flights.
However, the Middle Eastern airline's service, run through its Wifi provider OnAir, will be shut off 250 miles from the edge of the United States per the Federal Aviation Administration's continuing ban, according to All Things D.
The move is the latest technological advance from the luxury airline, which has allowed limited cell usage since 2008, according to USA Today. Emirates planes are already outfitted with WiFi and in-seat telephone, text message and email services.
In a statement obtained by All Things D, representative Patrick Brannelly said the company's development of the most up-to-date technology for its passengers has been a decades-long commitment.
“Beginning in 1993 with first passenger satellite phone service to last year with our A380 Wi-Fi system, Emirates has always taken the approach that providing the latest in inflight service and connectivity is a key part of our passengers’ journey,” Brannelly said.
While Emirate's announcement is noteworthy because of the airline's size and the number of its flights now outfitted with the service, the move is also indicative of a greater movement toward in-flight cell capability. USA Today reports that Virgin Atlantic passengers on select London to New York flights have been able to use their phones since May with the caveat that phones are turned off once American soil is sighted.
The FAA has relaxed some of its rules regarding the use of electronics and has taken steps toward allowing the use of personal electronic devices such as tablets, ereaders and music players during takeoffs and landings, according to the Associated Press.
And in August, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said, "With so many different types of devices available, we recognize that this is an issue of consumer interest," according to CNET.
But cell phones remain a "different animal" for the regulatory body, according to the FAA. And, according to USA Today, dozens of scientific reports have warned that radio signals from phones and other electronics can interfere with cockpit instruments in unpredictable ways.
Additionally, since 1991, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has banned the inflight use of 800 MHz cell phones because of potential interference with ground networks. Any airline that wished to allow cell phones on flights across the U.S. would first have to prove to the FAA that the devices would not interfere with the airplane's systems, and then have to to apply for an exemption to the FCC rule.
Then, of course, there's the annoyance factor.
Past polls have shown that American passengers don't want their seatmates to be able to talk through the flight, Fox News reports, but this attitude may be changing as smartphones, and the 24-hour accessibility they provide, become more and more ubiquitous.
In a survey conducted this summer by Fly.com, a fare-comparison site, two-thirds of travelers said they wanted to be able to talk on their phones.
Also on HuffPost:
Guns (821 Of Them!)
Let's start with guns, because there're just so damn many of them. The TSA reports that it's confiscated 821 firearms in 2012 to date (691 of which were loaded). Some were stowed away in creative places, like in <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-portland-passenger.html" target="_hplink">a potted plant</a> or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/gun-parts-found-hidden-in-stuffed-animals_n_1502545.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">inside stuffed animals</a>. Poor Mickey Mouse!
Batman Throwing Stars
Everyone knows that the Batman has his own plane and doesn't need to fly commercial. This faker, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">caught in San Diego in June</a>, is not Bruce Wayne.
The crazy thing about this story wasn't what was stopped from going on a plane, but why. A mother of a 9-month-old was told she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/amy-strand-breast-milk_n_1317058.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">couldn't board her plane</a> in Hawaii in February with her breast pump. The reason? Because the milk bottles were empty, <a href="http://www.kitv.com/KITV4-Exclusive-TSA-Admits-Breast-Pump-Mistake/-/8906042/9658158/-/qpck62/-/index.html#ixzz1nz9Acm95" target="_hplink">KITV reported</a>. The woman embarrassingly had to go to the bathroom to fill the bottles with milk, and the TSA later had to issue an apology.
Knife Mounted On Walker
Don't mess with this grandpa, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/05/tsa-week-in-review-plastic-dagger-found.html" target="_hplink">who tried flying out of JFK</a>.
Fortunately this weapon had no grenades in it <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-fantasy-knives-and.html" target="_hplink">when confiscated in February in Seattle</a>.
In Texas, they don't mess around with fake grenades. Officials at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport found <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/tsa-week-in-review-thousands-of-ecstasy.html" target="_hplink">a live 40mm explosive grenade in one man's luggage</a>. The guy actually had a good excuse. "It was a soldier who made a mistake and in the end, no charges were filed," the TSA explained.
The curious part of this story is that you <em>can</em> fly with a chainsaw, if it's in your checked luggage. But this guy traveling out of Elmira, NY, still had gas in his wood-cutter <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">when he attempted to get it onto a plane</a> in January.
This was confiscated at North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Cellphone Stun Gun
The TSA finds plenty of stun guns, but this one, masked as a cellphone and uncovered by officials in Indianapolis in June, takes the cake. Insert your "there's an app for that" joke here.
An X-ray screening in Philadelphia International Airport reveals one passenger trying to carry on <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/good-catch-explosives-discovered-in.html" target="_hplink">three M-80 fireworks</a>, along with "a water bottle wrapped in black electrical tape and filled with flash powder." Unsurprisingly, the man was arrested.
Regret that useless souvenir you got on your last vacation? <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-coral-covered.html" target="_hplink">Meet this diver</a> who found an 18th-century, coral-covered cannonball while exploring a ship near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The TSA determined that the projectile was still potentially explosive even after centuries underwater, and had to evacuate the checked baggage area and call in a bomb squad.
These stuckers were taken <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">by officiers in Salt Lake City, Utah</a>.
What's in the water in Dallas? An old bazooka round was found in a passenger's bag at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. "Not knowing if this was live or inert, Law Enforcement Officers established a 100-foot perimeter around the item and evacuated the baggage area and terminals near the item," <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">the TSA wrote</a>. Five delayed flights later, it was determined to be not live.
Obviously, this is scary. <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">In Harrisburg, PA, in June</a>, a passenger "had been at a conference where the items were given out as souvenirs."
<a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">Found in San Diego in January</a>.