Are In-Flight Mobile Phone Calls a Recipe for Disaster and Passenger Fights?

Photo (cc) by laszlo-photo

Cellphones have been incorporated into nearly every aspect of Americans’ lives. But talking on a mobile phone at 30,000 feet is typically frowned upon, which is OK because it’s also not allowed. Now some members of Congress (and many others) want to make sure it stays that way.

Seventy-seven members of Congress recently warned federal regulators that allowing passengers to talk on their phones while flying high could endanger the flight and cause potential disputes, Ars Technica said.

“Instead of focusing on required safety-related tasks, flight attendants may be forced to intervene in or mediate disputes between passengers on appropriate content and volume of voice calls, thus distracting their attention from other passengers and job responsibilities,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, the Justice Department, and Federal Communications Commission.

If you think it’s ridiculous to believe that talking on a cellphone could instigate an in-flight fight, recall the recent dispute over one passenger’s use of a Knee Defender on a United flight.

“Arguments in an aircraft cabin already start over mundane issues, like seat selection, reclining seats, and overhead bin space, and the volume and pervasiveness of voice communications would only serve to exacerbate and escalate these disputes,” the letter said.

According to Jaunted, flight attendants don’t want passengers talking on the phone either. The Association of Flight Attendants recently came out against it.

“In far too many operational scenarios, mobile broadband use could be far worse than a mere nuisance: It could have catastrophic effects on aviation safety and security,” said Sara Nelson, AFA International president.

For instance, will the signals interfere with the plane’s systems? What if people miss important safety announcements and instructions?

Elsewhere, according to the BBC, the European Aviation Safety Agency recently approved mobile phone use during flights. Now the airlines will study whether signals from in-flight calls will interfere with the operation of their aircraft.

I cannot imagine allowing voice mobile phone calls on planes. As it is, the quality of airplane travel often leaves much to be desired. If I had to listen to my seatmate (and others around me) talk on the phone, I would be ready to pull my hair out.

Are you in support of, or against, in-flight calls? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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