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Congressman Peter DeFazio

Representing the 4th District of OREGON

DeFazio Introduces Legisaltion to Ban the Use of Cell Phones on Airplanes

Apr 15, 2008
Press Release

April 15, 2008

WASHINGTON, DC—Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jerry Costello (D-IL) John Duncan (R-TN) and Thomas Petri (WI-06) all senior members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Oberstar, introduced legislation today that will ban the use of cell phones on in-flight planes. The European Union recently announced that it will allow people to talk on their cell phones while a plane is in-flight on all commercial airlines. Additionally, U.S. airlines are already experimenting with in-flight Internet access. In-flight voice communication poses a potential revenue source for airlines both because they could charge passengers to sit in a non-talking section and charge people to use their phones. H.R. 5788, the HANG UP Act, Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace Act, would insure that voice communication does not happen on U.S. flights.

—Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-OR), Jerry Costello (D-IL) John Duncan (R-TN) and Thomas Petri (WI-06) all senior members of the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, and Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Oberstar, introduced legislation today that will ban the use of cell phones on in-flight planes. The European Union recently announced that it will allow people to talk on their cell phones while a plane is in-flight on all commercial airlines. Additionally, U.S. airlines are already experimenting with in-flight Internet access. In-flight voice communication poses a potential revenue source for airlines both because they could charge passengers to sit in a non-talking section and charge people to use their phones. H.R. 5788, the HANG UP Act, Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace Act, would insure that voice communication does not happen on U.S. flights.

"The public doesn’t want to be subjected to people talking on their cell phones on an already over-packed airplane," DeFazio said. "However, with Internet access just around the corner on U.S. flights, it won’t be long before the ban on voice communications on in-flight planes is lifted. Our bill, the HANG UP Act, would ensure that financially strapped airlines don’t drive us towards this noisome disruption in search of further revenue."

"Last year was one of the worst on record for flight cancellations, delays and lost luggage. Now is not the time to consider making the airline passenger-experience any worse, and using cell phones in-flight would do just that," said Costello. "Polls show that the American public is strongly opposed to allowing cell phone use in-flight. They don’t just oppose the idea, they hate it, and the HANG UP Act will make sure it does not happen."

"Cell phone users should not be able to disrupt the comfort of an entire airplane cabin, especially when other passengers have no choice but to sit there and listen," said Duncan. "This bill will ensure a relative amount of peace for the American public as they take to an increasingly crowded sky."

The legislation only prohibits voice communications in-flight but passengers would still be able to access the Internet, e-mail and send text messages as these technologies become available on airplanes.

In-flight voice use of cell phones is overwhelmingly opposed by consumers. Sixty-three percent of those responding to a poll sponsored by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA and the National Consumers League were against it. Just 21% of people favored removing restrictions on using cell phones in flight. Aside from the obvious courtesy issues, flight attendants have safety concerns with in-flight voice communication. If voice communication is permitted, passengers are likely to not pay attention to safety announcements and flight attendants could be forced to referee fights resulting from loud conversations.

"The free market wasn’t adequate to regulate smoking on planes and it won’t be sufficient to regulate cell phones either," DeFazio said. "I am pleased that we are taking steps to stop this disruption before it becomes an issue for American consumers."