Op-Ed: Government likely to ban mobile phone calls on planes

Posted Dec 12, 2013 by Robert Weller
Although federal agencies that government aviation, transportation and communications are ready to permit the use of mobile phones on planes, passengers are unlikely to have to listen to annoying calls.
Inside a plane cabin
Inside a plane cabin
The Washington Post reports mobile phone users would be able to surf the net, exchange emails, text and do other work on their devices.
Senators have introduced a bill to ban such conversations in the wake of polls showing people already hearing others talking on phones enough. CNN said the FCC voted 3-2 to permit the calls, but resistance from other agencies, airlines themselves and Congress appeared likely to prevent the practice.
An AP-GfK poll found 48 percent opposition to such calls, and only 19 percent support.
"We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes. I feel that way myself," the new FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, said in a Nov. 22 statement.
"USDOT will now begin a process that will look at the possibility of banning these in-flight calls," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said, according to the Hill.
“Over the past few weeks, we have heard of concerns raised by airlines, travelers, flight attendants, members of Congress and others who are all troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight – and I am concerned about this possibility as well," Foxx said.
Such conversations might be considered a safety risk because they have resulted in fights on buses and trains.
When the poll was weighted to reflect the views of frequent fliers the opposition grows to 78 percent.
It appeared about as popular as the guys shown on a TV commercial barbecuing sausage as they annoyed Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
Passengers could play Candy Crush but the idea of turning a laptop into an Xbox for World of Warcraft would likely be greeted the same way it is in living rooms. Airlines might be able to assign small sections of a plane for those who want to make voice calls.
Most use of cell phones, now called mobile phones, has been banned for more than a decade, except for listening to music through headphones, watching movies, or using word processors.
But recent advances in communications had diminished the risk of such phones interfering with aviation navigation.
Delta Airlines has already said it will ban the calls. Other airlines say they are studying the issue.