Sounds of silence: Applause for in-flight mobile phone ban

cellphonesandplane.jpgThe loudest sound heard in Washington right now in applause in response to the regulator’s decision not to allow cell phones (mobile phones in the UK parlance) to be used in US airliners or airliners operating in US airspace. As the proposal to allow on board mobile yakking advanced over the last four years, the major beneficiaries seemed to be stand-up comics who incorporated it into their routines and even authors like the two women who wrote ‘Jerk With a Cell Phone: a Survival Guide for the Rest of Us’, or the even the regulatory body in question, the Federal Communications Commission, which posted a little info site for kids explaining the dangers of in-flight mobile phone use.

The issue seemed to be coming to a head in February when Carnegie Mellon University, a noted technology centre in Pittsburgh, produced a very detailed study arguing against allowing the use of mobiles in-flight. Then the other week, the FCC chairman said the panel, which is sort of like the Federal Aviation Administration but more independent of both the administration and Congress, was leaning against continuing its study of the issue. That in effect killed any chances of playing ‘guess where I’m calling from?’ on board. Applause came swiftly from some flyers groups such as the Business Travel Coalition, and from labour. A union representing flight attendants at Southwest Airlines said its 9,000 members applauded the move because mobile phones use would just make their job harder. After all, with angry passengers and other creatures on board…


And the union, the Transport Workers Union Local 556, noted that “Although the reasons cited this week for maintaining the ban were technical, it was clear to commissioners that the travelling public is overwhelmingly in favour of keeping airplanes cell phone free”. The FCC collects public opinion on issue via email and as well as through traditional letters (remember those?), and you can read the overwhelmingly negative public comments on the website in docket referenced in this FCC decision:

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One Response to Sounds of silence: Applause for in-flight mobile phone ban

  1. Sun Yanke 29 June, 2010 at 7:04 am #

    Ha. That’s just about the most messed up thing I’ve seen today. But somehow, I’m not positive, myself.

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