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Friday, November 22, 2013

Cellphones on planes


The Washington Post has just zapped the news to me that it is being considered that cellphones should be used on planes.

On planes while they are up in the air with a lot of helpless passengers on board.

Right now, I respect people who turn off their phones when they sit down at a restaurant table, and do the same when invited to dinner at my house.  They have probably formed the suspicion that they won't be sitting at a table with me again if they don't.

But now it looks as if flying in the US is going to be a journey into hell.

The nation’s top telecom regulator will propose allowing passengers to make cell phone calls and use their data plans while on an airplane, officials said Thursday.

The proposed rule change by the Federal Communications Commission would allow phone use once a plane reaches 10,000 feet. Restrictions would still be in place during takeoffs and landings.

The agency’s commission is set to discuss the proposal in their upcoming December meeting. The new rule has the backing of Tom Wheeler, the FCC’s new chairman, who was sworn in just weeks ago.

“Modern technologies can deliver mobile services in the air safely and reliably, and the time is right to review our outdated and restrictive rules,” he said in a statement. “I look forward to working closely with my colleagues, the FAA, and the airline industry on this review of new mobile opportunities for consumers.”

Wheeler, a Democrat, would need the support of the majority of the five-member commission, which has three Democrats and two Republicans.

The commission could vote on the matter after a public commenting period. The proposal does not need congressional approval.

The FCC made a similar proposal in 2004, but it was dropped three years later in the face of opposition from flight attendants and other groups worried about the distractions of constantly ringing phones and people talking on their devices while others are trying to sleep.

Judging by the stream of furious comments, the public still feels the same way.  A sampling:

For the love of god, no. Just, no. Flying can be difficult enough without sitting next to someone for four hours while he yammers on: "So now we're over Idaho. . . . Yeah, it's cloudy. . . . Oh, there's a river!. . . . I guess we'll be on time. . . . More clouds. . . ." 

Ugh. That annoying person yelling into his phone at the gate is about to be the annoying person yelling into his phone for 5 hours on the flight to LA.

U.S. should also give us a right "to punch someone annoying on the face" during flights if they bother us.

"opposition from flight attendants and other groups"
Yeah, other groups ... like passengers!!!

Terrible idea. Allowing broader use of electronic devices was great, but this has a real possibility of leading to confrontations in the cabin. Multiply the annoyance you feel at hearing that inane conversation on the bus for 15 minutes times the length of a cross country flight. Things will get ugly

There is an anecdote in Dostoevsky about a man and a woman riding in a 19th century coach. The man is smoking a cigar, and the woman has a lap-dog. The woman reaches over, grabs the cigar, and throws it out the window. So what does the gentleman do? You guessed it! As I said, this is from Dostoevsky, but it is truly worthy of W.C. Fields

NO PHONE CALLS! You want to see air rage on steroids? Bring it on!

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