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In-Flight Phone Calls Are too Dangerous For Approval, Congress Says

by Jacob Kleinman | September 24, 2014September 24, 2014 5:00 am PDT

iphone-on-airplane

In-flight calls are a tricky issue. Just because we can technically use our phones on an airplane doesn’t mean we should make loud personal calls from inside a cramped metal tube full of strangers, right? That’s what 77 members of U.S. congress are arguing in an official letter that claims in-flight calls could be a safety issue as well.

The issue raised here doesn’t have anything to do with the plane’s technology. Instead, the letter argues that in-flight calls could put an extra strain of flight attendants who have to deal with the results. The extra noise from those calls could make it harder to hear important announcements, and force airline employees to spend their time settling disputes caused by noisy passengers. It could be worse than Alec Baldwin trying to play Words with Friends.

“We urge you to continue the ban on voice calls on all commercial aircraft, and believe that your agencies must also work collaboratively to address safety and security concerns raised by the potential introduction of other wireless capabilities before they are permitted in-flight,” says. “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 says loud calls might distract others, or even the folks on the phone, from hearing important announcements from the cockpit.

We definitely agree with the letter, which was sent to the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Transportation, the Justice Department, and Federal Communications Commission on Monday. In-flight calls have the potential to make the airplane experience even worse than it already is. Sure, there might be that rare time where you really need to answer your phone, but for the most part you should be able to respond with a text message instead or just call back later.

Congress Ars Technica

Jacob Kleinman

Jacob Kleinman has been working as a journalist online and in print since he arrived at Wesleyan University in 2007. After graduating, he took a...

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