Kudos to the house panel for the humor and savvy in leveraging BuzzFeed, but the chairman's opposition to in-flight voice calls is based on pandering and misinformation about a service that has worked without incident on international airlines for years.
You can be certain that upcoming House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure hearings won’t be discussing bowel movements or gum chewing sounds, but the panel took to BuzzFeed and cited these subjects in its post on the Top 10 Phone Conversations You Really Don’t Want to Hear on A Plane.
How often do congressional committee create top 10 lists, especially ones as ludicrous as this one, using gifs on BuzzFeed of Miley Cyrus, Johnny Depp, and George C. Scott, among others, all supposedly in support of committee chairman Bill Shuster’s bill to ban voice calls on planes.
The T&I Committee issued a press release, too, entitled “Transport Hits Buzzfeed: Top 10 Phone Conversations You Really Don’t Want To Hear On A Plane.”
This hyper campaign against voice calls on planes in support of Shuster takes place one day before the FCC is slated to take up this issue and related ones about mobile phone use on planes.
More About In-Flight Phone Calls:
- Should In-Flight Calling Be Decided by the FCC or the Airlines?
- The International Airlines That Already Offer In-Flight Phone Calls and Texting
- Skift Asks: Do You Want Phone Calls and Texts on Flights?
And the opposition occurs despite the fact that European, Middle Eastern, Asia-Pacific and Latin American airlines have permitted voice call on planes without incident for years.
Hundreds of daily flights feature voice calls on planes, and each averages just a handful of calls per flight, lasting about a little more than two minutes. The vast majority of passengers using cellular services on flights don’t both with voice calls, and opt instead for data and text services. Voice calls use international roaming rates and are expensive.
Still, the T&I Committee is pushing hard to ban the in-flight voice calls so passengers won’t be “forced to listen to the gossip in the aisle seat,” and pilots and flight attendants can supposedly ensure “a safe and comfortable flight for everyone on board.”
Congressman Shuster even goes so far as to say that passengers should keep their personal lives to themselves.
For the record, the following is the committee’s top 10 “nightmares you could see/hear/suffer through on your next flight:”
10. Slapping of gum and occasional “uh huh.”
9. Discussion of latest thrilling celebrity gossip …
8. Inappropriate comments about bowel movements
7. How beautiful the weather is somewhere you are not flying
6. Stories about pets and their less than thrilling talents
5. The person who keeps trying to call without service
4. Conversations about relationships, feelings and emotions
3. Awkward fights with a significant other
2. The extremely loud person
1. How much someone hates where they work
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Photo credit: A House Transportation Committee took to BuzzFeed to push for a ban on in-flight voice calls as the FCC takes up the issue. BuzzFeed/House Committee on Transportation & Infrastructure