Congress will HANGUP on In-Flight Cell Calls

WME has discovered through the WWW that the HTIC of the USHR approved the HANGUP Act this past Thursday. If you can decipher all of that, then you too could be a U.S. Congressman.

Seriously though, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives approved the "Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace Act. Dont bother with the calendar, its not April 1st. Thats really the name of the proposed law.

According to IT the HANGUP Act would make permanent the long standing ban on such calls by the FAA (thats the Federal Aviation Administration) and FCC (the Federal Communications Commission). Flight Crews and USAM (United States Air Marshals) would be exempt from the ban. Indeed, the House of Representatives' Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has approved the act already.

While the alphabet soup seems to be over abundance in this story, the bill would stop in-flight cellular calls despite developing technology that would make such calls possible. Cellular calls while in-flight have been a illegal for some time due to concerns about interference the signals may have with on-board navigational and communications equipment. While other countries are moving forward to such services, Congress appears to be shutting the door on it.

Technology asides, Representative Peter DeFazio (D-Oregon and co-sponsor of the bill) states that there is another concern about in-flight calls. In a statement released by DeFazio, he states that, Polls show the public overwhelmingly doesnt want to be subjected to people talking on their cell phones on increasingly over-packed airplanes.

Opponents of the HANGUP Act agree that in-flight calls can be impolite but feel that you cant legislate courtesy.

The bill wouldnt ban internet access, email or text messaging in-flight. American Airlines recently launched wi-fi service in-flight and Virgin America plans to offer the same service by the end of the year. It will be interesting to see if you can use your wi-fi enabled cell phone to access this service or if you will have to pay a fee to use one of the airlines devices.

There is a ray of "hope" for would-be chatterers, though: DeFazio also added in his released statement that, With Internet access just around the corner on U.S. flights, it wont be long before the ban on voice communications on in-flight planes is lifted. Unfortunately he added, Cash strapped airlines could end up charging some passengers to use their cell phones while charging others to sit in a phone free section of the plane.

WC Staff
  • so are they going to get rid of airphones too?
    Otherwise, it seems like a really biased and therefore bad law.
  • Don't know about airphones but they would likely be included in the ban. The only exemption I could find was with the Air Marshals and Flight Crews.
    There are existing FAA regulations prohibiting cell phone usage but these can be easily reversed by the stroke of a pen. These regulations, as I understand them, are base on the potential for interference with onboard instruments.
    The HANGUP law is based on passenger's assumed discomfort about having listen to someone chat on the cell phone. In many ways, it's a Federal noise ordinance.
  • I really have no problems with that. You can still communicate via text messaging, email, and IM, so is having the ability to call really that important? Does it ban the use of your phone for voice on a plane, or could you argue that Skype use, for example, would be allowed?
  • I have been in loads of forum threads on the very topic for the last several years. This basically goes right along with my point of view. I am on anywhere between 3-15 planes a month. I do not have any problem banning all voice calls in the air while still allowing text, email, and internet access.
  • I ride on a public bus and I wish they would do the same thing -- And I'm a heavy cell phone user. The problem is that many people talk extremely and anoyingly LOUD on their cell phone. There some people that when they step onto the bus, I cringe because I know I'll be subjecting thier loud overbearing conversation during the ride.
  • Well..... since we are straying from cell phone use on airplanes, can we ban them in check out/drive through lines as well?
    It can be frustrating when you are in the check out line and the customer in front of you is more concerned about talking on the phone than paying for their merchandise. Or even worse, holding up the drive-thru line by yapping on their phone instead of placing or paying for their order!
    What's the harm in telling whoever you are talking to, "Hold on for a second while I pay for my Happy Meal.".