Skift Take

There are so few comments on the FCC site in favor of in-flight phone calls that it is obvious that supporters have been too busy conducting very important business and otherwise shooting the breeze on their smartphones to actually weigh in. Hold on.

Vociferous opposition to the FCC’s proposal to allow in-flight phone calls has been pouring in, scrawled on a Christmas card, drafted by attorneys on their law firms’ stationery, and replete with horrific anecdotes about overheard mobile calls revealing just Too Much Information.

The avalanche of comments has been coming in even though the official FCC comment period hadn’t even begun yet as of this writing. Once the ruling-making is published in the Federal Register, then an initial 30-day comment period will commence.

Proponents who favor in-flight phone calls point out the convenience, and argue calls would be very limited in duration. But an examination of the comments on the FCC site from those people opposed to allowing in-flight phone calls finds some sensible arguments.

And some people are pushing their viewpoints on the subject in a variety of interesting, colorful and entertaining ways.

There is, for example, one person telling the FCC that in-flight phone calls should be banned because of “Alec Baldwin,” who was kicked off an American Airlines flight in 2011 for refusing to stop playing Words With Friends on his iPhone, although no phone calls were involved.

Another commenter has no immediately apparent position on Alec Baldwin, but has nightmares of a smartphone-wielding Chatty Cathy, although the relevant iconic doll is misspelled as “Kathy.”

Whatever: Cathy talked a lot.

One objector wants to ban phone calls on planes because people like him are “loud” and they project their voices, and he “wouldn’t want to come to me and ask me to lower my voice etc.”

Another person thinks European airlines can handle in-flight calls while U.S. airlines can’t because foreigners are more polite than Americans.

Still another astute observer of cultural trends is apparently tired of the Me Generation, arguing that business class has already devolved into into a “cacophony of self-assertion,” and adding phone calls would contribute to the cacophonic chaos.

Here are excerpts from a smattering of the comments to the FCC:

The Alec Baldwin Argument

James Ching, attorney, Sacramento, California: I believe the Commission should consider the possibility for disorder on flights where any cellphone consumer who can afford the price of the service may use that service without reservation or restraint.

The nature of travel, even in business class, has degenerated into a cacophony of self-assertion which only calms down well into the flight. The use of cellphones during this period will only perpetuate the anger and irritation and extend it for the whole flight.

As I study the existing public comment on this issue, I find one phrase decisive — “Alec Baldwin.” I do not believe the Commission should approve a service which the general public can only interpet [sic] as a concession to the airline’s ceaseless desire for marginal profit at the expense of passengers as a whole.

In the Christmas Spirit, No Phones, Please

Dave Moncjeau, Springvale, Maine: What better use of my extra Christmas card than to ask you to please use any influence you have, during the process of allowing cellular use on planes, to guide airlines toward allowing data but not voice use in flight. Happy holidays. Merry Christmas.

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 12.44.47 PM

Rethinking Pledge of Allegiance

Robert Feldstein, P.C., Troy, Michigan (written to Delta with a copy to the FCC): As a long-time Delta customer, and one who has Platinum Sky Miles status, I, and my wife (a Gold Sky Miles member) have enjoyed a wonderful relationship with Delta. The airline’s approval of cell phone usage (for other than texting or-mailing) would have me re-think my allegiance and impel me to explore alternative airline possibilities.

My recent conversations with myriad other air travelers reveals that I am “one of many” who steadfastly oppose the airline’s approval of what will undoubtedly become a provocative and problem-creating service.

Screen Shot 2014-01-13 at 1.08.10 PM

Chatty Kathy

Joan Buffington, Hilliard, Ohio: Please do not allow phone use involving audible conversations. I am in favor of texting, web search etc. The noise would be unbearable! Having babies crying is something we all have to deal with but “Chatty Kathy!”


Thomas Burch, Esquire, Albany, New York: Planes have gotten smaller and people have gotten ruder. Do you really want to have the pilot referee a mutiny at 30,000 feet?

Please do not consider cell phone use on planes. People are so selfish and inconsiderate. You are going to ruin a barely tolerable trip for all. Why should I have to listen to someone’s foolish gibberish for hours on end after I paid $600 to $700 for the ticket?


Fewer No’s

Velton Ray Bunch, Pasadena, California: NO, NO, NO. Under no uncertain terms do I wish to sit and listen to someone else’s conversation. This is a terrible idea!

Middle Seat Jabbering

Mark Kilbridge, Houston, Texas: I am writing to register my strong opposition to permitting airline carriers to allow passengers to conduct cellphone conversations during flights. Allowing every passenger the right to jabber throughout a three hour flight would simply add to the hell that modern air travel has become. I have very little faith in allowing the airlines to exercise their good judgment in this matter, particularly if there is a dollar to be made in allowing passengers to use their cell phones.

When did common sense become passe? Forgetting the gross inconvenience to others, at some point this becomes a safety issue. Imagine being stuck in a middle seat with the passengers on either side of you using their cell phones throughout the flight:

“Yeah … Oh, nothing .. Yeah .. .Just took off … Yeah .. . I don’t know .. .I can’t remember her name … No … Maybe it started with an ‘S’ or something … No, that’s not it … No … [Loud laughter] … “

Three hours of this on both sides of you.

Loud Like Me and Trying To Understand Europeans

Peter McKimmin, Ph.D, San Diego, California: Short of having flight attendants who are already busy and overworked, how would one deal with folks like myself who have voices which are loud and project? I wouldn’t want to come to me and ask me to lower my voice etc. or worse, when a customer has had a few drinks and is loud on the phone and in the seat next to me?

I don’t know how the Europeans make it work, but it’s just not workable in the US, and especially in confined spaces like a plane at 30,000 feet.

Save the Flight Attendants

Anne Armstrong Scarboro, Ph.D, Boulder, Colorado: PLEASE do NOT vote on December 12 to allow passengers to make cellphone calls during flights. DO not turn a deaf ear to the flight attendants who are listening to their customers: “Passengers overwhelmingly reject cellphone use in the aircraft cabin. The FCC should not proceed with this proposal,” the Association of Flight Attendants said in a statement in response to the FCC chairman’s comments. HELP!

Foreigners Are Better Behaved, or Americans Behaving Badly

Philip Francis Donovan, Memphis, Tennessee: As a frequent flyer and trusted traveler, I strongly object to allowing consumers to use mobile devices to make voice calls.

While there are reports of successful usage on foreign carriers, my travelers indicates that foreigners are much more respectful of others than Americans.

To be trapped on a flight with someone who talks for more than a couple of minutes would be just intrusive and beyond imagination.


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Tags: fcc, in-flight

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