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More than 90 percent of respondents to this week's RBJ Daily Report Snap Poll are opposed to allowing in-flight use of cellphones for voice calls.
In a move certain to spark debate among Thanksgiving week travelers, the Federal Communications Commission announced a proposal last week that could clear the way for in-flight use of cellphones at altitudes over 10,000 feet.
The FCC noted that its current rules prohibiting use of cellphones on planes were adopted more than two decades ago to protect against radio interference to cellphone networks on the ground. "Technology that can be installed directly on an airplane is now available to prevent such interference," the commission said.
Added FCC chairman Tom Wheeler: "We understand that many passengers would prefer that voice calls not be made on airplanes. I feel that way myself. Ultimately, if the FCC adopts the proposal in the coming months, it will be airlines' decisions, in consultation with their customers, as to whether to permit voice calls while airborne."
Critics including the flight attendants' union oppose lifting the ban on in-flight phone calls, citing nuisance and safety concerns. Proponents argue that nations in Europe and elsewhere have adopted such policies successfully.
The FCC proposal comes less than a month after the Federal Aviation Administration adopted a new rule allowing the use of personal electronic devices such as tablets, e-readers and MP3 players during all phases of flight, so long as they are in "airplane mode."
Roughly 700 readers participated in this week's poll, which was conducted Nov. 25.
Do you favor or oppose allowing in-flight use of cellphones for voice calls?
Cellphone usage would make air travel seem like a circle of hell.
Can you imagine being on a cross-country flight and being stuck next to some loud business traveler who thinks his work is the most important in the universe? Allow cellphones only after a mandatory etiquette course.
I fly 150,000+ miles a year, and while it would be personally convenient, I wholeheartedly oppose the use of cellphones on airplanes. People do not have the level of discretion or control to be fair to fellow passengers. The boisterous businessman yelling about his latest deal, the lady calling her voicemail to tell her kitties, "Meow, meow, Momma loves you," is too much in a confined space. People could learn to manage their life in the time on the ground and maybe disconnect a bit in the air.
Texting, yes. Voice, no way! Peace and quiet is the only thing that makes some flights tolerable. Guaranteed, there will several nonstop, loud talkers the whole flight, if approval is granted. I would rather listen to crying children than multiple one-sided conversations by inconsiderate loudmouths.
Airplanes are the last refuge against the incessant cellphone chatter that seems to be all around us. I think travelers will be OK using email/chat to communicate from 30,000 feet until they are back on the ground.
—Raj Shah, Convergent Telecom
Your call can wait till you're on the ground-and I don't want to be forced to listen to you jabbering away.
—R. Phelps, Victor
The new proposal finally acknowledges what we all knew; cellphones and electronic devices have no impact on flight navigation. It was a nuisance that flight attendants policed vigorously with no effect other than to aggravate us. I also believe people should be allowed to make calls if they need to. There is no difference "nuisance"-wise than someone chatting with their seat neighbor. If someone's going to talk, they're going to talk.
I don't fly much anymore, but when I did, I could see allowing cell voice usage as another level of hell. I would be fine with text and email, though.
—Mike Gooding, Good Vibrations Inc.
They should be allowed only if a phone booth is available so no one else can hear them.
Can you imagine flying from New York to California next to a teenage girl?
Since people using cellphones talk so loudly, they will all need to have very interesting conversations for me to put up with them. Mundane discussions are so boring to others, and you can't help but be part of them. I also feel those on the plane should have the right to tell anyone on a call to hang up.
No. I really don't care to sit on a three-hour flight listening to somebody else's life. People are already rude enough standing in lines. A phone call is a personal conversation between you and the other person, not the rest of the world.
Could we tolerate 200 people all talking at once? We know how annoying one person is talking in a public place on the phone.
—Ed Rosen, Fairport
If we allow in-flight use of cellphones, airline flights will become noisier and more uncomfortable. It would subject other passengers to listening to people's personal and business drama. It is hard to relax and get some rest on a flight if someone is talking on a cellphone next to you. Some people have no voice control whatsoever, so it goes without saying that other passengers will be subjected to loud, obnoxious conversations. The same bad etiquette we see in the stores or walking down the street will now be on a flight where you may be stuck for hours next to the obnoxious behavior. Flight attendants already have a hard time getting passengers to turn their cellphones off at takeoff; now you would be subjecting them to the disciplinary rigmarole a second time while in the air from passengers who reluctantly comply at best. It is one thing to deal with rebellious behavior or have a confrontation on the ground, but quite another having it over 10,000 feet in the air.
—Rosalind Walker, owner, Victory Fitness
Absolutely no way. I am in business and on the phone constantly. There is no way I want to be sitting next to some person for 45 minutes or six hours listening to a-or now multiple- conversations around me, as people do not have any idea how loud they are when on the phone. Secondly, I can only imagine if I don't want to use my phone for talking I will pay the premium for a different seat. Stay with texting and email and leave the voice part out of this, but where there are potential dollars involved, you lose.
—David Topian, president, Westminster Real Estate Advisors LLC
This is the only place in the world where you can escape the ever-present cellphone. I for one would not want to be stuck near a person who does nothing but talk on the phone for the entire flight. With my luck, it would be one of the many "loud talkers" I run into each day.
Phone calls are personal and should be left that I way. The general public does not need to know everything about your life, and I am sure I do not need to! I hear too many things I do not need to know just walking down the street. Leave your phones turned off!
—Harold H. Ley, Stoney Road Consultants
11/29/13 (c) 2013 Rochester Business Journal. To obtain permission to reprint this article, call 585-546-8303 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.