The Ascent Into Hell, PostponedThe Ascent Into Hell, Postponed
Most U.S. air travelers -- almost 70% of them, according to a 2005 poll by <i>USA Today</i> -- breathed a collective sigh of relief late last week when the Federal Communications Commission <a href="http://www.informationweek.com/news/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=198500379">decided to extend its current ban on cell phone use on planes indefinitely.</a>
March 26, 2007
Most U.S. air travelers -- almost 70% of them, according to a 2005 poll by USA Today -- breathed a collective sigh of relief late last week when the Federal Communications Commission decided to extend its current ban on cell phone use on planes indefinitely.Interestingly, this decision was made on the grounds that the results are inconclusive whether cell phones interfere with critical airline communications. Yet based on European tests, in-flight usage is indeed quite safe -- which implies that as soon as it deems the scientific evidence sufficient, the FCC will relent. Judging from the response from travelers, most consider this just a bit worrisome: according to the New York Times, most of them say they want cell phones banned, not because of safety concerns, but because of the (extreme) annoyance factor. Indeed, the FCC received more than 8,100 messages from travelers begging to be spared from a fate that apparently they consider worse than death. Still, a number of commentators believe that the market should determine the fate of would-be mile-high yakkers. Their argument: let individual airlines decide whether to allow it, and let travelers vote with their dollars. There's a lot of sense in this. My guess is that the result would be the same: people will be so anxious to avoid the aggressive sales pitch or messy breakup in the next (very near) seat that they will be willing to pay extra. Perhaps certain flights will be designated cell phone free? If so, reserve my seat now.
What do you think? Do you think that in-flight cell phone use would make already-difficult air travel unbearable? Or are you of the camp that believes that annoyances -- no matter how extreme -- aren't something that can or should be regulated? Let us know by responding to the InformationWeek blog.
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