Huffpost Technology

Most Air Travelers Support Ban Of Cell Phone Calls On Planes

Posted: Updated:
IPHONE
Frequent travelers are more likely to oppose cell phone calls on planes. | Bloomberg via Getty Images

WASHINGTON (AP) — It looks like the government is more conflicted about cellphones on planes than most travelers. Even as one federal agency considers allowing the calls, another now wants to make sure that doesn't happen.

Passengers — particularly those who fly often — oppose allowing calls in flight, polls show. In line with that sentiment, the Department of Transportation signaled in a 22-page notice posted online Friday that it wants to retain a ban on the calls. But the notice comes just two months after the Federal Communications Commission voted to pursue lifting the ban.

Transportation regulates aviation consumer issues. The FCC has responsibility over whether the use of cellphones in flight would interfere with cellular networks on the ground.

Congress is also getting into the act. Lawmakers are pushing legislation to require transportation regulators to implement a ban on the calls.

Echoing some travelers' concerns, the Transportation Department said in its notice on Friday that it believes allowing passengers to make cellphone calls "may be harmful or injurious" to other passengers.

This is because "people tend to talk louder on cellphones than when they're having face-to-face conversations," the department said. "They are also likely to talk more and further increase the noise on a flight, as passengers would not be simply talking to the persons sitting next to them but can call whomever they like."

Some planes already have seat-back phones in place, but they are rarely used, it said.

The "concern is not about individual calls, but rather the cumulative impact of allowing in-flight calls in close quarters," the department said.

In an Associated Press-GfK poll three months ago, 48 percent of those surveyed opposed letting cellphones be used for voice calls while planes are in flight, while 19 percent were in favor and 30 percent were neutral. Among those who'd flown four or more times in the previous year, the rate of opposition soared to 78 percent.

Delta Air Lines told the government last year that 64 percent of its passengers indicated that the ability to make phone calls in flight would have a negative impact on their onboard experience.

Among the most ardent opponents of lifting the current ban are flight attendants, who worry that phone conversation will spark arguments between passengers and even acts of violence.

"Allowing passengers to use cellphones during commercial flights will add unacceptable risks to aviation security, compromise a flight attendant's ability to maintain order in an emergency, increase cabin noise and tension among passengers and interfere with crewmembers in the performance of their duties as first responders in the cabin," said Corey Caldwell, a spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants, which represents nearly 60,000 flight attendants at 19 carriers.

The current FCC ban was adopted in 1991 based on concern the calls planes might interfere with cellular networks on the ground, but technological advances have resolved those worries. In 2005, the FCC cleared the way for airlines to begin offering Wi-Fi in flight.

Last October, the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates safety, dropped its ban on the use of personal electronic devices such as tablets, music players and smartphones to send email, to text or to surf the Internet during takeoffs and landings. The agency said it is no longer worried the devices will interfere with cockpit electronics. However, phone calls during takeoffs and landings are still prohibited.

____

Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP_Joan_Lowy

Related on HuffPost:

Close
World's Most Creative Airplane Paint Jobs
of
Share
Tweet
Advertisement
Share this
close
Current Slide

Suggest a correction

Around the Web

Mobile phones on aircraft - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

FCC votes to consider lifting in-flight cell phone ban - CNN.com

U.S. to Consider Cellphone Use on Planes - WSJ.com

Questions and Answers About Cellphones on Planes - NYTimes.com

U.S. considers cellphones on flights but no calls - The Washington ...

No phones on our planes, say two airline CEOs | Dallas Morning News

FCC considers lifting cell phone ban on planes | Politics and Law ...

Keep cell phone calls off planes

Cellphone calls on planes? Don't ask the feds

House committee approves bill banning in-flight cell phone conversations

Cellphones on planes? Tap, don't talk

Democrats and Republicans Unite Against Phone Calls on Airplanes

Many air travelers give thumbs down to cellphones in flight

Opinion: Keep cell phone calls off planes

 
From Our Partners