Skip to comments.Calls on Airliners Are Annoying, but Must We Legislate Them?
Posted on 02/16/2014 12:05:45 PM PST by Kaslin
I have found the issue that can bring America together. Republicans and Democrats, urban hipsters and country folk, corporate scions and infrequent fliers -- they all seem to agree: The federal government must not allow mobile phone use on planes.
If the Federal Communications Commission allows airlines with properly equipped planes to open the cellphone gates on commercial flights, even Washington agrees there will be revolts in the friendly skies.
On Tuesday, by a bipartisan voice vote, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed a bill, the Prohibiting In-Flight Voice Communications on Mobile Wireless Devices Act, to the House floor.
Chairman Bill Shuster, a Republican from Pennsylvania and the bill's author, argues that at 30,000 feet, fellow passengers do not have the option of walking away from obnoxious loudmouths. Ergo, the Department of Transportation must ban voice calls on planes. Shuster, however, does favor regulations to allow passengers to use their phones and tablets to text, send emails and work online. He's got a catchy slogan: "Tap, don't talk."
Me, I feel sorry for the poor chumps at the FCC. Since 1991, the FCC has banned cellphone use on planes, lest the signals interfere with wireless networks on the ground. With the advent of technology that can prevent interference, the FCC revisited the rule. In October, the FCC ruled that passengers may leave on their phones (in airplane mode) and personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing -- because its mission is to regulate technology, not passenger behavior.
Kudos, the public should cheer. Finally, a regulatory agency that doesn't want to overreach its authority. Shuster himself noted that it is the responsibility of the Department of Transportation, not the FCC, to make rules in the name of airline safety.
Unconcerned with jurisdictional matters, however, the public has flooded the FCC with protests. According to The Associated Press, 48 percent of Americans (78 percent of frequent fliers) oppose allowing passengers to talk on their phones.
I get it. As airlines try to make flights cheaper -- a good thing -- seats are closer together and service lacks even the oh-so-modest frills of yore. When flying is a chore, passengers get grumpy. It's no fun even just riding public transportation next to a bigmouth, and city bus rides don't last six hours like a cross-country flight. The flying public fears "air rage" incidents.
That said, Americans are overreacting. The FCC conducted a study of countries that allowed cellphone use on planes in 2012; none of the 11 authorities that responded reported "any cases of air rage or flight attendant interference." Most countries reported low usage and short calls, and if there were complaints, they were about the cost or interruption of service.
Remember when U.S. airlines installed those pricey middle-seat phones? There were no mutinies in the sky.
If the FCC allows voice calls, my guess is that U.S. airlines will prohibit or strictly limit usage. Delta and Southwest have announced their intent to just say no. Legal departments, litigious consumers and flight attendant unions should take care of the rest.
I know world travelers who pay big bucks to visit countries that offer hole-in-the-floor plumbing and bus rides with barnyard animals and who nonetheless are terrified at the prospect of flying on a U.S. airline on which other passengers can make cellphone calls.
Truly, we live in a golden age. Americans' idea of hardship is flying safely over the entire country in six hours, with access to movies, music and their choice of news. But oh, the horrors, someone else being able to make a phone call? For this, Congress will act.
Actually - yes. I travel a lot and I can’t imagine the horrors of being trapped for hours next to some guy yelling out his business deals - or some twitty teenager yelling out how much she hates her boyfriend.
People rarely used the built-in phone service because it’s expensive and thus you really had to have a need to use it. Also, you weren’t going to use it for very long, so it was never a real problem to people sitting around you.
The only thing that will prevent people from provoking riots on the flights is a general law, because otherwise each airline has to regulate it and this means that the poor flight attendants are probably going to be kicked to death in the aisles by some bro or some bubba or, more likely, some teenage girl from the Midwest or California who reaallly, reaallly, NEEDS to have a 7 hour conversation with her girlfriends at top decibel in a pig-sticking voice.
Although it’s incredibly rude by some to chit chat the way they do, I would say that if the FAA will lift the ban on smoking and reign in the sexual assult police prior to boarding, then no need to regulate cell phone talking.
But untill then...the only phone calls allowed are the expensive ones - phones provided by the airline. That’ll keep the nonsense down to a minimum.
Unless the air carrier has a mobile cell “tower” installed in the avionics bay, cell phones won’t do much. I’ve had very little success with a cell phone connection much higher than 6000 feet.
Going higher and higher, it takes longer and longer to get a text message thru... and at some point (8000 or so) all text messages time out.
I used to travel a lot and the worst thing that you can have is a motor mouth behind you telling their life story to some poor soul stuck with them. They don’t need a phone to do this. I have even offered them free drinks or $20 bucks to just shut up. Phones will make it worse..but I guess it shouldn’t be outlawed.
U just need an internet connection to skype
Deborah would be well-advised to stay away from technical subjects.
Airlines are starting to become universal with WiFi access, that will in turn enable Skype. As another poster remarked, you can’t get the cell system to work at high altitudes.
Multiple idiots yelling into their cell phones or skypes or whatever on a crowded airplane would be worse than a crying baby because usually there’s only one baby crying, whereas at least 10% of the passengers would be shouting into their cell phones if it was allowed.
If a baby cries there is always a reason for it.
If people yelling on Skype starts becoming disruptive, the airlines are free to stop the behavior....allowing disruptive travelers is bad for business.
I think you’ll find the ports for streaming services and VOIP/UDP are blocked.
So no Skype shouters or Facetimers.
The 'Knockout game' is annoying, but must we legislate it?
In a free society, anything that is not prohibited is allowed... And it generates its own subcultures of increasingly annoying or downright dangerous abusers.
That said, I'd rather the feds work on annoying crap laws that make little difference, than big laws that cost lots of money.
Now if they could ban their use in moving autos...
flippin’ texting morons!
No. Let the airlines make their own decisions as private businesses.
Didn't ask me.
I say the fedgov should keep their noses out of it.
Annoying does not equal illegal.
Next they will be saying the fedgov must not allow people to chew with their mouths open.
10%, no more like 50%-75%.
I have noticed that well over half the people standing in line or waiting for a haircut, etc immediately get on the phone. People can’t stay off the damn things.
On a plane, it wold be a nightmare!