In the name of decency, House committee votes to bar cellphone conversations on airplanes


Matt Slocum / AP

In this Oct. 31, 2013, file photo, a passenger checks her cellphone before a flight in Boston.

Tue, Feb 11, 2014 (3:20 p.m.)

Your plans to make a cellphone call in flight may never come to fruition.

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted today to roll back a proposal from the Federal Communications Commission that would allow airline passengers to use cellphones during flights.

The FCC, which issued its plan in December, points out that modern technology means that cellphone use no longer poses a complication to airplane operation.

But for Congress, the matter is more about common decency than what’s technologically necessary.

“Everyone has sat next to someone on a plane who talked nonstop,” said Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., a member of the committee. “Imagine if they were allowed to share their observations throughout the flight with friends on the ground."

Titus and others in the committee approved the bill banning cellphone conversations on flights during a committee meeting Tuesday.

It would not, however, ban other mobile communications activities that do not involve talking, such as texting or surfing the Internet.

If the bill becomes law, it would make the sound pollution on an aircraft a more highly federally regulated sound space than other common modes of group transportation, such as buses and planes.

Members voting for the proposal are pretty sure, however, that the American flying public will support their efforts.

“By banning cellphone conversations on airplanes, Congress has found one issue that all Americans support,” Titus said.

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