2 comments March 23rd, 2007at 07:47am Posted by Eli

Some terrific news from The Bureaucracy:

The Federal Communications Commission will give up on the idea of allowing cellphone use on airplanes, the chairman said on Thursday, because it is not clear whether the network on the ground can handle the calls.

While the chairman, Kevin J. Martin, cited a technical reason, thousands of air passengers have written to the F.C.C., urging rejection of the proposal because of the potential for irritating passengers in airline cabins. The Federal Aviation Administration had been laying the groundwork to allow in-flight cellphone use.


The airlines were ambivalent about the desirability of cellphone use on board. Tim Wagner, a spokesman for American, said his airline was concerned about the “social implications,” and would probably have considered setting aside certain times in the flight, or parts of the plane, for cellphone use.

The airlines are still interested in providing customers with e-mail access and the ability to browse the Web, however. “We believe our customers value that and would love to have that on the airplane,” Mr. Wagner said. American carries 250,000 to 275,000 people a day, he said, and “life doesn’t necessarily stop” when they are on board.

The step backward for wireless devices on planes probably comes to the relief of some passengers. Among the more than 8,100 comments received by the F.C.C., for example, was this message from Thomas F. Flournoy III, of Atlanta: “Please for the sanity of the majority of air passengers who do not want to hear cellphone conversations in the air, and to avoid confrontations between passengers, do not allow this practice to begin.”

Thomas F. Flournoy III speaks for me.

Also, I have to wonder if the airlines were quite so ambivalent as they suggest. The bit about them wanting to provide in-air e-mail and internet service may hint at their real motivation: revenue. If people can use their own phones and wireless devices, then they won’t have to pay the airlines for it.

Even so, as much as I love my Treo (which I never actually use as a phone), I would be more than happy to leave it turned off if it meant I wouldn’t be trapped next to an obnoxious cellphone jabberer for three hours.

Entry Filed under: Technology


  • 1. MEC  |  March 23rd, 2007 at 7:55 pm


    The post-9/11 overwrought security restrictions haven’t put me off flying, but the prospect of being trapped between cellphone yakkers for two hours certainly would have.

  • 2. Eli  |  March 23rd, 2007 at 9:17 pm

    Bleagh. I’m sure I would go postal.

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