For years I've been flying cross country and over that time there were needs to make a call during that 5 hour flight. At one time, there used to be airline phones built into the back of the seats in front of you. You'd swipe your credit card and place your call.
Then with the advent of cell phones, most airlines discontinued these airline phones because they couldn't really justify you not using your own cell phone and make you use theirs at a jacked up cost. So they created the fear that using a personal cell phone would cause your plane to crash and kill you. Not exactly subtle and not exactly true.
Now the FAA has relaxed its rules and is making it okay, leaving it to the airline's discretion, for passengers to use their personal cellphones and other communication devices to make calls once the plane has reached a certain elevation.
Will this be a nuissance for many passengers? You bet. But should there be a law against it? Depends on who you ask.
Political momentum to keep a ban on cellphone calls during flights gained momentum Monday as lawmakers said it would be crazy to allow them.
Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) became the second lawmaker after Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to offer legislation to keep the ban in place.
“Let’s face it, airplane cabins are by nature noisy, crowded, and confined,” said Shuster, the chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. “For those few hours in the air with 150 other people, it’s just common sense that we all keep our personal lives to ourselves and stay off the phone.”
I can't say that I don't understand this argument, but I've been in a number of restaurants and they are confined areas where they can get noisy by default and yet they don't prohibit phone calls.
Lawmakers in favor of keeping the ban say they’re not worried about the safety of passengers. They’re worried about their sanity.
“For passengers, being able to use their phones and tablets to get online or send text messages is a useful in-flight option,” Shuster said. “But if passengers are going to be forced to listen to the gossip in the aisle seat, it’s going to make for a very long flight.”
Well, it's nice to see that the GOP lawmakers are not worried about the safety of passengers. That's reassuring. Sanity is their concern. If only that were the case. For if sanity was the determining factor, they'd be on the 'no fly' list.
Certainly I think consideration should be made for those who don't wish to hear the yapping. For years they had smoking and non smoking areas of planes. Maybe that would be a better option, Passing a law against using a cellphone or tablet with internet connections seems extreme.
So perhaps there are options outside the total banning of making a call. And maybe even beefing up the authority of the airline personnel to request a caller keep it down. Currently they have the right to refuse alcohol drink service to anyone they feel is becoming disruptive. You can take away their phone privileges just as easily.
Time for the GOP to settle down into issues that we really need to address. Stop nibbling at the perimeter and start dealing with substantive considerations like immigration, economy, jobs, middle east nuclear weapon disarmament, and making health care work. Airline phone courtesy is best left to the air carrier. Elected officials time is best spent on the public they serve.
UPDATE: Late yesterday the Department of Transportation jumped into the FAA/Airline cellphone decision-making and offered a proposal that would ban calls outright. DOT's proposal would allow passengers to still use their data plans on smartphones and tablets to surf the Web or send e-mails and texts.