Cellphones in the sky?
Prospects improve that airlines will OK their use in flight.
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That was given preliminary approval by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee earlier this month and is now on its way to a vote in the full House.Skip to next paragraph
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Bigger aviation issues loom, critics say
The idea that Congress is using its time to focus on whether or not one can talk in the sky has infuriated some aviation analysts who note that lawmakers have yet to approve a long-overdue Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill or provide funding to expand the nation's woefully inadequate aviation infrastructure.
"What's really outrageous is that it was done in the transportation infrastructure committee. We've got airports collapsing, the air-traffic control system collapsing, airports needing funding, and they're worried about people talking on phones on an airplane only because it would be noisy?" says Michael Boyd, president of the Boyd Group, an aviation-consulting firm in Evergreen, Colo. "What does that have to do with infrastructure?"
Mr. Boyd is in favor of allowing cellphone use. He does not believe that it would cause too much of a nuisance.
"I don't buy this argument that you're going to be in a big metal tube with people yelling and screaming," he says. "People already talk on airplanes and you can barely hear them because the ambient noise is so high."
There may be room for a compromise.
A 'quiet room' for planes?
Remember the smoking sections on airplanes? How about a quiet or cellphone-free zone? Amtrak's Acela trains, which travel between Washington and Boston, has a quiet car, which Richard Golaszewski says works just fine.
"The people in that quiet car will just go nuclear if your phone rings or you're talking on the phone – it's really well-enforced," says Mr. Golaszewski, executive vice president of GRA Inc., an aviation-consulting firm in Jenkintown, Pa. "I think with reasonable rules, a quiet section, and basic human courtesy towards one another – you know, don't yell, don't tell your dirty jokes out loud – I think it could work quite well."
Of course, financially strapped airlines may allow cellphone use and charge an extra fee if one wants to sit in that quiet zone.