A US Air Carrier Is Now Allowing Inflight Video Calls, the Worst Idea Ever

Raise your hand if you feel personally victimized by JSX

A passenger FaceTiming on an airplane inflight
Don't be this guy.

There is something so deeply unsettling about people who lack public transit etiquette. I’m talking — in no specific order — about the subway riders who listen to music sans headphones, chronic manspreaders, people who don’t take their backpack off on a packed train, the passengers who clip their nails on flights. Once on a trip to Vegas, I even sat next to a pair of middle-aged women who, for the first 25 minutes of the flight, tried to recruit everyone within a five-row radius to sing karaoke with them. Seriously? Go to hell!

Although it’s far less egregious, this is also the way I feel about people who take calls, or FaceTime, on public transit. Sure, there are exceptions, but I think I speak for the vast majority when I say that no one wants to listen to your personal conversation for five stops. Or any amount of stops.

It’s not explicitly stated anywhere that you can’t do any of the aforementioned things, but there is, at the very least, an understanding that you shouldn’t. However, it is explicitly stated by most airlines that you cannot make inflight video calls (i.e., Zoom, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams, etc.) inflight. I say most because one U.S. carrier has just made an amendment to that policy.

Per a report from View from the Wing, JSX has become the first FAA-certified carrier to allow video conferencing. This is in part due to the carrier’s usage of StarLink internet, which Gary Leff calls “crazy fast, with low latency,” as well as JSX being “uniquely positioned to execute” in way that other airlines aren’t.

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“Ambient noise on their fleet of Embraer regional jets effectively cancels noise. Even if you’re not wearing noise-cancelling headsets this aircraft tends to be louder and does it for you,” he writes, adding that these jets only hold 30 passengers and most of them having 1-1 seating with each traveler getting a window.

Further, there will allegedly be etiquette rules in place based on testing JSX has undergone…but I fear that inflight video calling is inherently bad etiquette, and I cannot be convinced otherwise. I already know some would argue that it’s necessary for emergencies, but who — pray tell — is using Google Meet for emergencies? And many airlines now offer complimentary wifi, or at least purchasable wifi, so in the event there is an actual emergency, you’re likely still reachable by text or WhatsApp anyway. Please be serious.

Fortunately, most airlines say they won’t be hopping on the trend based on what they believe customer preference to be. And if the comments section on Leff’s article is any indication of what that preference is? I think we’re good.


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