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Congress is Worried That In-Flight Calls Will Cause Fights on Airplanes



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Letting people make calls while fling will cause dangerous fights according to a letter signed by 77 Members of Congress and sent to the heads of the Departments of Transportation, Homeland Security, Justice and the FCC. In-flight conversations will cause arguments and even physical altercations that will present a real safety hazard on planes according to the lawmakers. The letter was put together by Reps. David McKinley (R-WV) and Dan Lipinski (D-Il), and signed by mix of other Republicans and Democrats.

"Passengers making voice calls during flight could impact the ability of crewmembers — flight attendants and pilots — to perform their jobs, keep passengers safe and the cabin environment calm," the letter states. "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."

There has been a rash of well-publicized stories of planes forced to land after fights broke out over seat reclining disagreements. It's not an irrational thought to extend the same concern to people talking on the phone, except it would be even worse since it could annoy a whole lot of people in one go.

It's not the first time that Congress has worked to try and prevent people being allowed to talk on the phone while flying. In February, after the FCC ruled that using cell phones during flight doesn't interfere with communication equipment, the House Transportation Committee passed a bill to ban the practice.

"When it comes to cell phones on planes, tap, don’t talk, said Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), chairman of the committee at the time. "Airplane cabins are by nature noisy, crowded, and confined. In our day-to-day lives, when we find someone’s cell phone call to be too loud, too close, or too personal, we can just walk away. But at 30,000 feet, there’s nowhere else for an airline passenger to go.  Under this bill, passengers will be able to use their mobile devices to stay connected, through getting online, emailing, texting, and more.  During flights, it is common sense and common courtesy to continue keeping cell phone calls on the ground."

The fact that phone calls don't interfere with ground communication didn't stop the lawmakers from expressing concern over phones messing with the mechanics of an airplane though. For the most part, it seems a bit premature. Despite the FCC's proposed lifting of the ban, the DOT has said it would keep a ban in place. At the very least, the lawmakers want a big review of any possible danger before changing the rules. So don't plan to have a chat while you fly any time soon.

"By working together, the government can fully assess the comprehensive impact these proposals would have on passengers and crewmembers, as well as the safety and security of U.S. aviation," the letter concluded.

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