Oh, please! Is a federal ban on cell phone calls on planes really necessary?
This week Washington politicians urged the federal government NOT to lift the current federal ban on cell phone use for voice calls on planes.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Department of Transportation (DOT) have been considering ending the ban ever since they determined that cellular service onboard planes is not a threat to aircraft navigation or communications systems.
Nearly 80 lawmakers claim that cell phone use on planes could lead to inflight mayhem— they say it could interfere with flight attendants’ ability to do their jobs keeping passengers safe and the cabin environment calm. They add that inflight phoning would exacerbate the already tense atmosphere in tightly packed planes. They even go so far as to claim that allowing cell phones on planes could help coordinate terrorist attacks.
Inflight cell phone for voice calls use is already permitted by many airlines around the world. Even highly regulated Europe relaxed its ban on flight calls way back in 2008. None have reported any of the mayhem predicted by US politicians.
Companies that provide cellular service onboard say that calls don’t last more than two minutes and the service is only used by a handful of passengers on any given flight. They say that most passengers choose to use their mobile phones for texting instead.
In the US, Delta’s CEO has already publicly stated that it will not allow the use of mobile phones for voice calls during flight with or without a federal ban. Elsewhere, airlines that have adopted the onboard technology have the ability to turn voice calling on or off– and some, like Lufthansa, have decided to keep it off. Ryanair, Europe’s largest carrier, experimented with allowing cell phone use on its planes in 2009 and dumped the idea due to lack of interest.
Huh? Why don’t people in these other countries yack endlessly on their cell phones on planes if they can? It’s because of market forces. Using your phone on a plane is not the same as using it on the ground. It’s very expensive… To make a call, you first have to set your phone to international roaming, and then calls cost about $3-$4 per minute.
Does anyone remember those GTE or Verizon phones installed in nearly every airline seatback in the 1990s? People could use those phones with the swipe of a credit card, at similarly steep rates, if they wanted to. But they did not.
Because of the cost (and peer pressure) I really don’t think that cell phone use onboard planes is all that big of an issue. Usage patterns here would not be too different from elsewhere in the world.
If the feds are searching for something to regulate, what about enforcing a minimum seat pitch and seat width aboard aircraft? If they are truly concerned about reducing stress and controlling mayhem in airline cabins, a standard 33 inches between seats that are no less than 18 inches wide would go a long way… it might even prevent more “Knee Defender” type incidents that were widely reported last month.
So what you you think… do we need the federal government to tell airlines if they can or cannot allow cell phone use for voice calls onboard planes? Would it be a better idea for our lawmakers to enforce seat pitch instead? Or should the feds stay out of the airline business altogether?
I’d love to hear your comments! Please leave them below.
Like what you just read? Then say so! Scroll back up to the top and LIKE the post on Facebook, post it on Linked In and/or tweet it!
Would you rather get TravelSkills Weekly instead of Daily? No probs! click here to sign up for TravelSkills Weekly.
Please join the 80,000+ people who read TravelSkills every month! Sign up here for one email-per-day updates!