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Senators Propose Bill Prohibiting Phone Calls On Planes 513

Posted by Soulskill
from the nobody-wants-to-hear-your-conversation dept.
SonicSpike writes with news that two U.S. Senators, Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), have proposed legislation to ban cell phone calls while aboard an airplane. This follows a recent announcement from the FAA increasing the range of electronic gadgets travelers can use while flying, and a vote by the FCC to consider allowing phone calls during flight. However, even as those government agencies work to lift regulations on in-flight technology, the Department of Transportation is pondering a in-flight call ban of its own, saying it might not be "fair" to consumers to have to listen to other passengers talk on the phone throughout a long flight. FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said, "If we move beyond what we do here today and actually update our rules to allow voice calls on planes we can see a future where our quiet time is monetized and seating in the silent section comes at a premium."
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Senators Propose Bill Prohibiting Phone Calls On Planes

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  • what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Charliemopps (1157495) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:47PM (#45681187)

    Are they going to ban them in restaurants next? Movie theaters? What an idiotic premise!

  • Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chinton (151403) <chinton001-slashdot@gma i l .com> on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:50PM (#45681241) Journal
    Do they really have nothing more pressing to deal with than legislating common courtesy?
  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by H0p313ss (811249) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:51PM (#45681251)

    Are they going to ban them in restaurants next? Movie theaters?

    That would be nice. We already know there's a special hell reserved for those who talk at the theater.

  • by MetalliQaZ (539913) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:51PM (#45681257)

    Not cell phones, but there have definitely been phones available. Some planes even had handsets embedded in the back of the headrests.

    Also, I have always left my phone on in flights. It doesn't get a signal at altitude, and definitely not over the middle of the ocean. It's really only when you are near takeoff or landing.

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by glavenoid (636808) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:52PM (#45681271) Journal

    It should be up to the airlines whether or not allowing voice calls would cater to their passengers, but airlines should have leeway on how they enforce their policy, such as being able to forcibly disembark a passenger immediately upon violating a voice-call prohibition.

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by X0563511 (793323) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:56PM (#45681335) Homepage Journal

    Indeed. There is zero reason this needs to be legislated.

    This is just congress fucking off instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing, again.

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Sockatume (732728) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:57PM (#45681353)

    People do tend to be less considerate of bystanders when making phone calls than when talking to someone who is actually in the room in my experience; you'll see someone who's having a perfectly reasonable conversation with somebody at dinner, then turn away to answer their phone and jump up an order of magnitude in loudness. I think it's the fact that one side of the conversation is private to the other people in the room; it triggers some sort of general "private talk" flag in the brain that makes you automatically and quite unconsciously begin talking as though there was nobody else there.

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by edibobb (113989) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:58PM (#45681369) Homepage
    We should ban talking altogether. Terrorists have been known to use speech in training as well as in the execution of terrorist attacks. Child pornographers and drug cartels are also frequent users of speech.
  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:58PM (#45681371) Journal

    It should be up to the airlines whether or not allowing voice calls would cater to their passengers, but airlines should have leeway on how they enforce their policy, such as being able to forcibly disembark a passenger immediately upon violating a voice-call prohibition.

    How dare you let businesses determine their own methods of business. You NEED the government to tell you how to run your business since you suck at running it and some lifetime politician knows more about your business then you do.

  • by tomhath (637240) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:59PM (#45681383)
    If the person next to you is talking on the phone just join in. Comment on what they say, ask what the other person said, etc. Someone rude enough to have a phone conversation in a crowd won't catch the sarcasm, but at least you'll annoy them as much as they annoy you.
  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CohibaVancouver (864662) on Friday December 13, 2013 @12:59PM (#45681385)

    What's difference between talking on a phone and talking to someone I am traveling with as far as noise disruption?

    Because of low (or absent) sidetone on cell phones, people tend to speak much more loudly than they would in a regular conversation. Additionally, if the connection is poor people tend to shout. This is why most people find cell conversations disruptive.

  • by perpenso (1613749) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:00PM (#45681395)

    Not cell phones, but there have definitely been phones available. Some planes even had handsets embedded in the back of the headrests.

    And their high cost has moderated their usage. Cell phone usage would be quite different.

  • Re:Really? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kannibal_klown (531544) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:00PM (#45681403)

    I don't agree with the bill, but there is a difference to the third-parties.

    Firstly, everyone talks louder on the phone. They don't realize it and deny it left-and-right, but they do. Add to that, they will be compensating for the engine noise so it's going to be a lot of "can you hear me, what about now, is that better" So you have increased volume.

    Second, you have the issue of "half a conversation" messing with your brain. Hearing another conversation isn't so bad, hearing only HALF the conversation (the guy on the phone) and your brain tries to piece together w t h they're talking about or what the person on the other-end-of-the-phone is saying. It's an automatic thing, so it adds to the annoyance.

    Lastly, not too many people talk to their strangers / neighbors for more than a few minutes. Sure people talk, but for the most part people just want to veg out and rest / read / watch the movie / etc. Bring in the phones, and LOTS of people will be talking.

    Personally I'm fine with the way planes have been... the talking is at a minimum so I can at least try to get some rest. Instead now you will have people going on and on about mundane stuff.

    At least... hopefully the teens and younger will be Texting instead of calling... so I don't have to hear all of the "Oh My Gawd did you see what she was wearing" BS.

  • by MikeRT (947531) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:01PM (#45681427) Homepage

    How about we respect the fact that the plane is the property of the airline and let them set policy accordingly. I mean holy crap on a cracker Batman, civility will break down because someone is talking (at most likely) conversational volume on a cell phone on a long flight that already has cranky and cramped adults, babies and drunks.

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:01PM (#45681433)

    Yes common courtesy, but there are so f*cking many jerks and morons that have no clue what courtesy is...

  • Re:what? (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:02PM (#45681451)

    Welcome to The United States of Intolerance and Knee Jerk Reactions

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gstoddart (321705) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:03PM (#45681465) Homepage

    Are they going to ban them in restaurants next? Movie theaters? What an idiotic premise!

    In a restaurant, I can ask my waitress to tell you to STFU. If she fails to, I can (and will) walk out.

    You already can't use your phone in a movie theater.

    Being stuck on a plane for several hours while some sales wanker is on a conference call -- well, let's just say the cabin crew might have to break up a few fights and deal with the fallout of someone who has had enough. After you've won buzz-word bingo for the 3rd time in 15 minutes, it wears thin, and people have already been stressed out by the process of going through the airport.

    Mark my words, I bet it would take less than 2 years before the first in-flight murder of a cell phone user or something silly like that. Because the people who feel they can't avoid using their cell phones often have absolutely no awareness of those around them, because they feel whatever they're doing is so important that the rest of us should have to put up with it.

  • Distraction Bill (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Antipater (2053064) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:03PM (#45681469)

    Both Alexander and Feinstein have issues that they'd rather the media not look at right now. Alexander's chief of staff was just arrested on child porn charges, and Feinstein...I don't think I have to mention, here on /., why people hate Feinstein.

    So they've come together with a "you know that thing that people really hate? Let's ban it!" bill meant to get their names in the headlines next to something they think people will like. It's just a stunt. Pay no heed to it.

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Virtucon (127420) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:06PM (#45681503)

    Yes it's called the Alamo Drafthouse. [youtube.com]

    This person is why Cell Phones need to be banned on airplanes in this country. If I had to listen to her talk endlessly on a flight I'd probably look for the nearest emergency exit and throw her out! Yeah, there'd be collateral damage but honestly if a person can't be bothered to not use their phone in a theater what makes you think that they'll be polite on a plane?

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bill_mcgonigle (4333) * on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:14PM (#45681617) Homepage Journal

    This is just congress fucking off instead of doing what they are supposed to be doing, again.

    Don't worry, the next election will change *everything*! At least, that's what I hear every two years...

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by macbeth66 (204889) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:15PM (#45681621)

    I'd rather that congress focus on this than on more ways to waste tax dollars. There is a lot to be said for a congress that can't do anything.

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Entropius (188861) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:20PM (#45681715)

    There is a train line that came up with a novel idea: on part of the train you can use your cellphone, and on part of the train you can't! Gee, what a concept. Maybe we could let the airlines figure this out, rather than having Congress make laws.

  • Re:Wait, what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by TubeSteak (669689) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:23PM (#45681755) Journal

    Congress regularly has to regulate what anyone would consider common courtesy.
    What do you think the Do Not Call list and the Commercial Advertisement Loudness Mitigation (CALM) Act are?

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by jedidiah (1196) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:24PM (#45681769) Homepage

    An airline?

    You really don't want to go there. These are some of the most heavily regulated businesses on the planet. The companies in question might not even mind given the kind of chaos that could ensue otherwise.

    Regulation gives everyone a nice level playing field.

  • by swb (14022) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:26PM (#45681791)

    ...even if "being told what to do" means they decide internally but have a Federal organization slap their letterhead on it and make it a Federal rule/policy.

    There will probably be a lot of high-mileage and influential business customers who want to talk on the phone. These people are the gravy for airlines in terms of income and that can get expensive if they switch to another carrier who will allow these calls. Making their own policies that risks exposing them to a competitive disadvantage is something they don't want.

    If they do allow calls with their own policy, they then risk the public relations nightmare of bad press and public opinion. Of course they don't really care about vacation travelers opinions very much since they aren't the high margin business customers, but they also don't want the negative PR generally.

    It's just so much easier for them on this issue if they don't have to decide on their own and they can just point to a regulatory rule.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by bonehead (6382) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:26PM (#45681795)

    Indeed. Political bickering and gridlock in Washington are the only things preventing this country from going downhill even faster.

    The absolute worst case scenario for the USA is that we ever elect a congress that can actually get anything accomplished.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:27PM (#45681813) Journal

    Regulation gives everyone a nice level playing field.

    It also ensures that inventiveness is removed from business.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:33PM (#45681899) Homepage Journal

    Replace "talkers" with "crying babies" and your statement is no less true. Shall we ban babies on flights as well?

    Yes, please!!

    I once had a screamer behind me on an early flight, and I was not feeling that well.

    I rang the flight attendent, and when she came to me, I asked her if we could "please put the kid in the overhead compartment".

    It was just loud enough for the parent behind to hear, who *finally* started to try to control the kid....and the flight attendant smiled at me and said "I think you need a bloody mary", and went to get me one.

    If you can't or won't control your kids, please keep them at home until they can maintain themselves in public.

    I actually miss smoking sections in restaurants for this reason, it was much better to eat there as that most parents wouldn't eat in the smoking section. And when I worked in the business back while in school, I found the smoking section folks drank more alcohol and tipped better too, but that's another topic altogether.

  • Re:what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by vakuona (788200) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:34PM (#45681907)

    Here is a thought. An aeroplane is a public place, and you should not necessarily expect quiet on a plane. What next, do you ban people talking to each other on planes because is disturbs your peace and quiet?

    Why not buy some earplugs if you want to drown out the noise around you? Why not let people use their time as productively as they wish.

    If it is a red eye flight, then I fully agree that people should be quiet at certain times. but to mandate it for all flights, whatever the time is ridiculous.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cayenne8 (626475) on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:36PM (#45681927) Homepage Journal

    The absolute worst case scenario for the USA is that we ever elect a congress that can actually get anything accomplished.

    And, we saw this brilliantly illustrated when Obama first hit office and Dems had control of both houses. We're feeling the effects now of obamacare which was rammed through.

    Thankfully, even with majority in both houses, they didn't do more damage.

    Sadly, the only way to overturn this mess, and get it out and maybe revised would be to have the Reps in control of all 3x branches. But, I'm afraid what else they'd do if they had that much control.

    So, I'm afraid we're largely screwed on this one...

  • by tepples (727027) <{moc.liamg} {ta} {selppet}> on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:43PM (#45682011) Homepage Journal

    Sadly, the only way to overturn this mess, and get it out and maybe revised would be to have the Reps in control of all 3x branches. But, I'm afraid what else they'd do if they had that much control.

    Last time the GOP had the House, Senate, and Presidency, the United States got involved in Vietghanistan and Vietraq.

  • Re:what? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @01:55PM (#45682151)

    Actually they should charge for the right to use the cell phone, and have a cell phone reserved area.

    Only people that really need to make calls will pay. Maybe that's the way congress should legislate, the fundamental right is the right to quietness, but give the airlines leeway to charge for customers who insist in making phone calls in flight.

    A long time ago there were smoker and non smoker areas, so dividing a plane into two areas is not a problem.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by nitehawk214 (222219) on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:01PM (#45682221)

    There is a train line that came up with a novel idea: on part of the train you can use your cellphone, and on part of the train you can't! Gee, what a concept. Maybe we could let the airlines figure this out, rather than having Congress make laws.

    Amtrack does not charge extra for "quiet cars". You can bet your ass an airplane would charge you for some peace and quiet.

    Also, on a train you can get up, move around, and there is lots of room between seats. On a plane you are pressed right up against the asshole yammering on his phone right next to you.

  • Re: what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:02PM (#45682229)

    Sure, and the trumpet player who's travelling to his next performance should be allowed to make productive use of his time by practicing. It's not like you have a right to peace and quiet at the expense of his convenience.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slew (2918) on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:07PM (#45682285)

    Because the people who feel they can't avoid using their cell phones often have absolutely no awareness of those around them, because they feel whatever they're doing is so important that the rest of us should have to put up with it.

    This. I know someone that operates a hotel (and sometimes I used to help at the front desk). Often heavy smokers (and you can smell them as they walk up to the desk) specifically request a non-smoker room because they don't have to smell smoke. More often than not, they seem to end up lighting-up in that room because they just couldn't resist and they get indignant when the hotel attempts to fine them for smoking in a non-smoker room. The most common excuse was it was cold and didn't want to get dressed to go outside and I couldn't wait (as if that is somehow a valid excuse).

    People addicted to telephones, texting and internet games would seem to fit this profile better than they would probably want to admit.

  • by Dragonslicer (991472) on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:14PM (#45682345)

    s/fog horn/vuvuzela

    No jury in the world would ever convict the guy that kills you.

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 0123456 (636235) on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:18PM (#45682401)

    Yeah, it would be awful if congress were to, say, spend enough time to rationally examine energy policy, and pass laws to encourage responsible nuclear power in addition to renewables.

    Yeah, because that would totally happen.

    In the real world, they would pass a 2,000 page Affordable Energy Act that no-one had read, full of pork for hamster farmers.

  • Nine Eleven (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Culture20 (968837) on Friday December 13, 2013 @02:38PM (#45682609)
    If phone calls would be prohibited on planes, flight 93 would have hit something in D.C. Maybe where these senators are sitting. Time for someone to use 9-11 politically again.
  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Chris Mattern (191822) on Friday December 13, 2013 @03:03PM (#45682869)

    And the one about the theater specifically, is surely about as old as affordable cell phone service.

    Try, as old as theaters, and not just movie theaters, either. There are lots of people who don't need a cell phone to babble on anywhere and everywhere.

  • by Bill_the_Engineer (772575) on Friday December 13, 2013 @03:07PM (#45682917)

    Which has already proven to be less harmful to the USA than when the DNC rammed Obamacare (is that "racist") through, without even reading it ("must vote for it, to see what is in it"). So far, Oregon spend 300 million to enroll 44 people, good FUCKING use of tax dollars.

    You're kidding right? The amount of money we spent and the amount of interest we will pay to fund the two wars dwarfs any economic damage that Obamacare supposedly will cause. We won't know the final cost of the wars since we will be paying for the casualties that return home for quite a long time.

  • by Dahamma (304068) on Friday December 13, 2013 @03:25PM (#45683133)

    Which has already proven to be less harmful to the USA

    Are you KIDDING me? Better to spend $300M to get 44 people health care (and that's a moronic statistic, anyway - they spent too much money and the site isn't ready, but that's an NRE cost, not a per-person rate, DUH) than $5 TRILLION to get thousands of soldiers and hundreds of thousands of civilians killed. For the cost of those wars the US could have fully insured every citizen in the US for years.

    And name ANY direct harm that has actually come to anyone AS OF TODAY over the ACA (not some unproven conspiracy theory of future issues). Yes, millions of cancellations of policies have been announced (*not* enacted yet), but the vast majority of those people will end up with with cheaper policies with more coverage. Combine that with newly covered people and it will be a large net gain. Not comforting to those individuals who made out the worse for it, of course, but on the scale of 300M people that's how things go.

  • Re:what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by sabri (584428) on Friday December 13, 2013 @03:33PM (#45683221)

    If you can't or won't control your kids, please keep them at home until they can maintain themselves in public.

    There is another side to that story. I've been a business traveler for a lot of years, earning Platinum status with Skyteam year after year. I was always annoyed by parents traveling with kids... Until I became a father myself. Unfortunately, it is not always an option to "just keep them home". Family living abroad, a death in the family, there are many reasons why infants and toddlers need to travel.

    Having that said, your frustration should be aimed at the parents who are unprepared. When my (now 2 year old) daughter travels, 90% of our carry-on is toys and food to keep her silent. And usually there are two 10-minute moments that every kid cries: take-off and landing, for obvious reasons. And even the landing noise can be mitigated by feeding the child, especially if it is still an infant. However, I have seen parents doing nothing when their kid screams so loud that the vibration becomes a hazard for the engines. That, my friend, is the person you should vent your frustration at. These parents should be banned from airplanes, and parenthood altogether. The kid is not the nightmare, the parent is.

    On her latest trip, last week from AMS to SFO, my wife was actually complimented about our daughter's behavior by passengers around them. The trick? A fully charged Ipad Mini fully loaded with Dora the Explorer movies.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Friday December 13, 2013 @03:49PM (#45683415)

    You're still missing the point. (God I hate airplanes so freakin much)

    An airplane is NOT a public space.

    It's a pressurized little container where people are jammed packed like little fucking sardines. The average seat size has been reduced due to greed, while the average ass size has only gone up.

    So it's greatly uncomfortable as it is. Let's add to it ridiculously uncomfortable seats, and the fact they can recline annihilating the space for the passenger behind you. Your option? Recline your seat as well to reclaim the space. Last row that can't recline. You're fucked dude.

    You got problems with poor circulation and neuropathy? Ehhh, fuck you and stay sitting period. You can't even get up to stretch your legs unless it's the weak pretense of going to bathroom, and there are only two of those SOB's on most flights.

    Then there is biggest restraint. It's a pressurized fucking container moving 500+ mph through the sky and you can't leave .

    It's not a public space by any stretch of the imagination. It's an agreed upon temporary prison not designed for comfort at all with the sole purpose of ferrying your ass as fast as possible between two points.

    So let's be pragmatic in the approach and not so high and mighty about who gets to do what and how freedom shall not be tarnished and the wings of liberty can't lose a feather.

    Can I leave that environment at any time when some asshat like you thinks I should just spend my money for sensory deprivation equipment because you want to dominate the space with your loud incessant talking on the phone? You might want to think that through for a sec....

    Cuz... I will fucking kill you. They will pull you off that plane with peanuts jammed up your nose, and that life raft/vest/fart-catcher sticking out your ass. Ohh, and I will be wearing your fucking ears around my neck as a sign of my kill.

    I'm not trapped on that plane with you, you're trapped on that plane with me. I'm uncomfortable. I'm pissed off that the TSA didn't lube up on that pseudo random investigations they do for security theater. I'm possibly a little dehydrated cuz I didn't want to spend 10$ for a bottle of water and $3m USD for that turkey panini to raise my blood sugar up. It's not just me either. Keep that in mind.

    You're general audience is pissed off (at least to some extent), frustrated, uncomfortable, hungry, dehydrated, dealing with snotty children and babies, and CAPTIVE . Good luck if you want to be the asshole and become the center of attention.

    P.S - Having a conversation with another travelling passenger at a reasonable volume is just fine. You should just be civilized and keep in mind that nobody has the choice but to put up with you, and they have no where to go.

  • Re:what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 13, 2013 @04:05PM (#45683581)

    Oh man, those terrible cell phone people.

    It's a good thing our society has you in it instead, a person willing to murder others for using cell phones nearby.

    But I begin to wonder...honestly, if a person can't be bothered not to murder someone on a plane what makes you think they'll be polite elsewhere?

  • Re:what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by macbeth66 (204889) on Friday December 13, 2013 @04:13PM (#45683657)

    They aren't lying. They really do mean that. But the quote is incomplete. The Republicans favor less Democratic government.

  • Re:what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by AK Marc (707885) on Friday December 13, 2013 @04:21PM (#45683747)

    "let them eat cake"

    I thought the Republican plan was "let them eat rats (from the gutter they are living in)."

  • by Albanach (527650) on Friday December 13, 2013 @06:09PM (#45684781) Homepage

    My first cell phone, some twenty years ago, came with a guide that included an etiquite section. It suggested using an unused doorway or empty payphone box as a place to make a call in public.

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