FSS Cellphone Trouble


If, like many pilots, you use a cellphone for FSS briefings when you do any cross-country flying, you should download this list and put it in your flight bag. As handy as they are, cellphones have some unique limitations that make them a pain to use with telephone features that were originally designed for the landline system. The universal FSS 800 number (1-800-WX-BRIEF) is one of those anomalies and may land you in the hands of a briefer in New York when you’re calling from San Diego. (Not that we’d know anything about that.) The problem is that when you call 800-WX-BRIEF from a landline, the area code of the phone you’re using automatically routes the call to the nearest FSS. So, if you’re in South Dakota, you’ll get Grand Forks FSS. But your cellphone emits your “home” area code no matter where you’re calling from so you’ll always get the FSS nearest your home airport when you use the universal number. Each FSS has its own toll-free number and you can always phone the correct one for your circumstances by using the aforementioned list (or by using a land line).