Nov 25, 2013

    Loud US reaction to in-flight phone proposal


    THE complaints started getting loud almost immediately after United States regulators said they were considering allowing mobile-phone use on planes.

    In petitions, on social media and in press releases, the grumbling began within hours after the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) said the question would be discussed at a Dec 12 meeting.

    The Association of Flight Attendants said it firmly opposed a rule change, citing "the importance of maintaining a calm cabin environment".

    "Any situation that is loud, divisive and possibly disruptive is not only unwelcome, but also unsafe," said the union's statement.

    More than 1,000 people added their names within a day to an online petition to the White House asking to block any rule change.

    The petition stated: "During flights, passengers are forced into a restricted space, often for long periods of time. This would make an already cranky, uncomfortable travel experience exponentially worse... Just because we CAN use our phones at 30,000 feet doesn't mean that we SHOULD be able to."

    Reaction on Twitter ranged from the outraged to the comical. Twitter user Fred Somers of Buffalo, New York, tweeted: "The airplane is one of the last safe havens from obnoxious phone etiquette. They're everywhere else! No phones on planes!"

    Meanwhile, user Ron Charles of Bethesda, Maryland, quipped in a tweet: "Hoping the FCC also lifts that old ban against throwing cellphone users from the plane."

    An online survey by news site MarketWatch found that 83 per cent of people opposed calling on planes, while only 6 per cent favoured it.

    FCC chairman Tom Wheeler clarified that his agency was only reviewing technical considerations, and would not be in a position to tell airlines they need to allow phone usage.