Survey Says: No Yakking On Planes

By a landslide, air travelers don't want to add cell phone chatter to their already-long list of in-flight complaints
By a landslide, air travelers don't want to add cell phone chatter to their already-long list of in-flight complaints, a survey says.

The poll, conducted on behalf of the National Consumer League and a flight attendants' association, found that 69 percent of those surveyed wanted to keep cell phone restrictions in place on planes, while just 21 percent thought it was fine to gab once off the ground.

In December 2004, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) proposed lifting its long-running ban on the use of cell phone and wireless data communication devices during U.S. flights.

Most of the negative results hovered around the 80 percent mark, the survey, released Thursday, showed, on issues ranging from "air rage" to emergency communications.

Seventy-eight percent, for instance, agreed that cell phones would contribute to the "already-tense, close quarters of an airplane" and could lead to unruliness, or confrontations between yammering passengers and flight attendants. Even more -- 82 percent -- said cell phones might "make planes uncomfortable and be disruptive" to passengers who wanted to nap or read.

"We're not surprised that people responded so negatively to the idea of cell phone use being allowed on airplanes," said Susan Grant of the National Consumer League, in a statement. "This survey and the popularity of the Do Not Call Registry illustrate the growing desire of many consumers to put up the 'do not disturb' sign and have some peace and quiet."

If the ban is lifted, 70 percent of those polled said they wanted to see separate seating sections for talking, and non-talking passengers.

The FCC's public comment period on the proposal was to end Monday, April 11, but on Thursday, it was extended until May 26 at the request of the Justice Department. People can file a comment with the FCC by using a form on its Web site.

Business travelers may have to deal to with noisy airplane rides sooner than expected. InformationWeek reports that a new company called OnAir, a joint venture between aircraft maker Airbus and airline software provider Sita Inc., is working on an airborne system that would enable in-flight cell phone use.

Editor's Choice
Brandon Taylor, Digital Editorial Program Manager
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Terry White, Associate Chief Analyst, Omdia
John Abel, Technical Director, Google Cloud
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek
Pam Baker, Contributing Writer