Friday, August 1, 2008

Bill to ban in-flight mobile phone calls goes to House

A bill that calls for a ban on all in-flight cellular voice calls will be put up for vote before the full House of Representatives after being approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure committee.

Chairman of the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Peter DeFazio (D-OR.) introduced HR 5788, or the HANG UP (Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace) Act in April of this year, and it was approved in the Transportation and Infrastructure committee on Thursday.

DeFazio presents the bill (PDF here) not so much as a safety measure, but rather one of convenience for travelers.

"With airline customer satisfaction at an all time low, this is not the time to consider making airplane travel even more torturous. Polls show the public overwhelmingly doesn't want to be subjected to people talking on their cell phones on increasingly over-packed airplanes," he says

DeFazio continued to explain that not only is it an annoyance, but potentially an added cost to passengers. Since in-flight Internet access is still a nascent onboard feature, it could be exploited by struggling airlines seeking to add revenue.

"In-flight voice communication poses a potential revenue source for airlines both because they could charge passengers to sit in a non-talking section and charge people to use their phones," he said. "The HANG UP Act, would ensure that financially strapped airlines don't drive us towards this noisome disruption in search of further revenue."

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