The unfriendly skies: Cell phones in flight

airliner for cell phone postU.S. Rep. Peter DeFazio doesn’t like what he hears about the possibility of cell phones being legalized on airline flights.

He’s sponsoring the Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace Act — or HANG UP — which would prohibit the FCC from allowing mobile phone use in the skies.

DeFazio, D-Oregon, is no buttinski — he’s a member of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.

“After arriving hours early at the airport and often after waiting for a delayed, or even canceled, flight, what could make air travel worse?” he asks rhetorically in an opinion piece on cell phones on airplanes, in U.S. News & World Report. “How about being stuck next to a person droning on about his latest breakup or medical procedure for the length of your flight?”

DeFazio continues: “It is bad enough when the person sitting next to you on an overnight flight leaves the light on. Now imagine trying to sleep while he yaks on the phone. And on a plane, unlike on a bus or a train, a passenger cannot get up and move to get away from a person’s cellphone conversation. ”

His legislation recently passed the House of Representatives as part of the Federal Aviation Administration Reauthorization Act of 2009. Support comes from the National Business Travel Association, the International Airline Passengers Association and the Association of Flight Attendants/Communications Workers of America.

For a rebuttal, arguing in favor of cell phones on planes, check out “If Europe Can Handle In-Flight Cellphone Use, So Can America.” Here’s a sample:

The proposed ban is based upon the incorrect assumption that everyone else on the planet is just more polite than we are and that American flight crews cannot maintain cabin decorum as their foreign counterparts have done and continue to do every day. … America is ready to join the rest of the world when it comes to in-flight communication connectivity.

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