5G rollout: Disgruntled United Airlines asks customers to contact FCC over flight delays

Major airlines were forced to cancel flights to the United States after the FAA raised concerns about 5G towers near airports


                            5G rollout: Disgruntled United Airlines asks customers to contact FCC over flight delays
United Airlines wrote to customers whose flights had been delayed as a result of 5G deployment near airports (Alex Wong/Getty Images, Twitter)
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United Airlines left a disgruntled message for its customers, advising them to convey their grievances to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) amid flight delays caused due to a nationwide 5G rollout.

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Major international airlines were forced to cancel flights to the United States on Wednesday, January 19, after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) raised concerns about 5G towers being erected near airports. The Biden administration was pressured by the Airlines for America trade group over the “catastrophic disruption” due to the bungled January 19 rollout. Shortly after, Emirates, Air India, Japan Airlines and All Nippon Airways announced they would suspend flights. Responding to the uproar, telecom stakeholders AT&T and Verizon announced that the activation of 5G towers near some US airports would be delayed for two weeks to resolve the differences.

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United Airlines wrote the sensational message to customers whose flights had been delayed by several hours on Tuesday evening as a result of the 5G spectrum deployment across the country. “New: @United tells customers to contact @FCC over delayed flight,” Reuters reporter David Shepardson shared on Twitter, alongside a screenshot of the United message attached. “Your flight is delayed due to potential interference caused by the implementation of a new 5G signal by telecommunications systems near Denver International Airport and its possible impact on aircraft equipment," the airline wrote. “If you have any concerns, please address them with the Federal Communications Commission here.”

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The FAA has allowed planes with new and reliable altimeters to operate around 5G towers, but planes with older equipment are barred from making landings under low-visibility conditions. According to the FAA, part of the problem is the signal strength of the wireless towers and the orientation of their antennae. “Base stations in rural areas of the United States are permitted to emit at higher levels in comparison to other countries which may affect radio altimeter equipment accuracy and reliability,” the agency said in a statement in December.

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Meanwhile, the FCC's chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel said in a statement that the 5G “deployment can safely co-exist with aviation technologies in the United States, just as it does in other countries around the world.” However, she urged the FAA to conduct safety checks with “both care and speed.” 


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AT&T and Verizon reportedly spent tens of billions of dollars to secure the 5G spectrum known as C-Band in a government auction last year. President Joe Biden said the agreements signed by the two telecom giants “will avoid potentially devastating disruptions to passenger travel, cargo operations and our economic recovery while allowing more than 90% of wireless tower deployment to occur as scheduled." He added that they were still working towards a permanent solution around key airports.

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5G internet is said to use C-Band frequencies close to those used by aircraft altimeters. The FAA has warned that potential interference could severely hamper the operations of the sensitive plane instruments, especially in low-visibility conditions. Dennis Tajer, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, told the 'Today Show' on Tuesday that the rollout of 5G near airports could endanger the lives of passengers.  “This is reckless, it’s dangerous, and it’s got to stop,” Tajer warned. “Take a pause. This is about a cellphone signal, and we’re focused on protecting lives," he added.

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