The FCC Has The ‘WORST IDEA IN THE HISTORY OF THE CIVILIZED WORLD !!!!!!’

… and other thoughtful, nuanced comments about cell phones on planes.

NEW YORK - JULY 27: A man talks on a cell phone in the new American Airlines terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport July 27, 2005 in New York City. The new, 1.1 billion dollar termninal is the largest to house a single airline at JFK and can process nearly 2000 passengers an hour, according to the airline. (Photo by Chris Hondros/Getty Images)
National Journal
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Brendan Sasso
Feb. 19, 2014, midnight

The Fed­er­al Com­mu­nic­a­tions Com­mis­sion has struck a nerve with its plan to al­low cell-phone calls on planes.

More than a thou­sand people have filed com­ments in the past month beg­ging the com­mis­sion to re­verse course. FCC Chair­man Tom Wheel­er ar­gues that the agency’s ban — which was ori­gin­ally based on in­ter­fer­ence con­cerns with ground net­works — is out­dated, and oth­er coun­tries are already us­ing tech­no­lo­gies to al­low phone calls without any in­ter­fer­ence prob­lems.

Wheel­er has said that he per­son­ally wouldn’t want to sit next to a per­son car­ry­ing on an ob­nox­ious phone con­ver­sa­tion, but that the agency should aban­don any rules that no longer have a sound tech­nic­al basis. In­di­vidu­al air­lines could still pro­hib­it phone calls, and the Trans­port­a­tion De­part­ment could in­sti­tute a new ban.

None of that hedging, however, is sit­ting well with the gen­er­al pub­lic, and when the agency called for com­ment on the plan to end the cell-phone ban, they caught an ear­ful.

Here’s a sample:

“AB­SO­LUTELY NO CELL PHONE CALLS ON AIR­CRAFT! Can you ima­gine be­ing stuck next to or near some leath­er lunged mor­on rant­ing about the cur­rent fantasy foot­ball league at the top of his voice? Or some screechy fool car­ry­ing on about her (un­happy) love life? You want to see blood in the aisles, just go ahead and al­low cell phone voice com­mu­nic­a­tions on air­craft. DO NOT LEAVE IT UP TO THE AIR­LINES, who’ll al­low it if they can fig­ure a way to make some money out of it. Ex­er­cise some lead­er­ship. Ex­er­cise some com­mon sense.”

— Steve Bloom

“WORST IDEA IN THE HIS­TORY OF THE CIV­IL­IZED WORLD !!!!!!”

— Robert De­Vor­ia

“The use of cell phones by mul­tiple pas­sen­gers in flight will cre­ate a ca­co­phony of noise that will make us plead for the re­l­at­ive solace of more cry­ing in­fants.”

— Wil­li­am Trepp

“PLEEEEEEEZZZZZ Tell me that you Are NOT SER­I­OUS about let­ting people make phone calls on Air­planes!!!!!! There WILL be FIGHT­ING!!!”

— Pamela Craw­ford

“Fur­ther, while I ac­cept that some ring tones are unique (my phone has John Wil­li­ams’s ‘Im­per­i­al March’, from the STAR WARS movies), too much of something can be ob­nox­ious, es­pe­cially if someone’s phone might fea­ture in­ap­pro­pri­ate or of­fens­ive lyr­ics.”

— John W. Clif­ford

“I CAN­NOT BE­LIEVE THAT YOU WOULD AL­LOW PEOPLE WITH CELL PHONES TALK­ING ON AN AIR­PLAIN [sic]. EVERY­ONE HAS ONE AND WANTS TO TALK.

THIS IS AS WORSE AS THINK­ING ABOUT HAVE KNIVES ON BOARD.

EX­CUSE ME FOR THIS LAN­GUAGE BUT: WHO­EVER IS COM­ING UP WITH THESE IDEAS MUST BE SMOKING SOMETHING.

I CAN­NOT BE­LIEVE THIS. WILL YOU PROVIDE EVERY­ONE WITH EAR MUFFS?

BY THE WAY HAV­ING THE ABIL­ITY TO PUSH YOUR SEAT BACK IS AN­OTH­ER BAD IDEA. IT IS RUDE AND MAKES THE PER­SON BE­HIND THEM UN­COM­FORT­ABLE.”

— Carl Cies­likowski

“PLEASE tell me that this is some weird type of April Fools Day joke! I tried to bring to mind all the ways in which air­plane travel has shif­ted over the ‘more than 58 years I have been fly­ing as a pas­sen­ger on com­mer­cial air­lines. Years ago, we dressed in suit and tie; stew­ard­esses wore high heels and nylon stock­ings; and food ar­rived on real china, heated to din­ing tem­per­at­ure. Time spent in the air was ac­tu­ally peri­od of time that was pleas­ant.

Nowadays, one wishes that some Fed­er­al agency would ac­cord pas­sen­gers the rights en­joyed to cattle be­ing led to slaughter. Frankly, the thought of be­ing trapped for hours at a time on a cross con­tin­ent­al flight near some blow­hard bel­low­ing in­to his cell phone, with a teeny-queenie across the aisle sob­bing about her boy­friend who just dumped her, while a hard-of-hear­ing grand­moth­er talks baby talk to the new grand­child - couldn’t we just sign up to sit in the sec­tion re­served for scream­ing in­fants in­stead?”

— Grant P. Thompson

“Mov­ing for­ward with this pro­pos­al will jeop­ard­ize safety and com­fort on board our air­craft. As the pro­fes­sion­als charged with main­tain­ing a safe and com­fort­able cab­in, Flight At­tend­ants will not sup­port changes to the cur­rent policy.”

— As­so­ci­ation of Pro­fes­sion­al Flight At­tend­ants

But not all of the com­ments were neg­at­ive. The Tele­com­mu­nic­a­tions In­dustry As­so­ci­ation and the Con­sumer Elec­tron­ics As­so­ci­ation ap­plauded the FCC for mov­ing to end the ban. CTIA, which rep­res­ents the wire­less car­ri­ers, voiced sup­port for the pro­pos­al but urged the FCC to care­fully eval­u­ate po­ten­tial in­ter­fer­ence prob­lems.

The dead­line for com­ments was Fri­day, and the agency will ac­cept reply com­ments un­til March 17. After re­view­ing the com­ments, the agency will make a fi­nal de­cision about wheth­er to lift its ban.

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