The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee passed Thursday the Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace (Hang Up) Act, which would ban voice communication during scheduled flights. The Hang Up Act now moves to the full House of Representatives.
The Federal Aviation Administration already bans cell phone calls during flights, and the Hang Up Act would make that ban permanent. The ban would have certain exemptions for members of the flight crew as well as law enforcement officers.
Additionally, passengers would still be able to access in-flight Wi-Fi, as well as send text messages and e-mails as those services become available.
"With airline customer satisfaction at an all-time low, this is not the time to consider making airplane travel even more torturous," Rep. Peter DeFazio, who introduced the legislation, said in a statement. "Polls show the public overwhelmingly doesn't want to be subjected to people talking on their cell phones on increasingly overpacked airplanes."
A poll sponsored by the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA found that 63% of respondents were against the use of cell phones during flights, and some flight attendants say in-flight calls can pose a safety risk.
As the lone dissenting voice, Rep. John Mica, said there are many things that can be annoying on a flight, but that doesn't mean they should be banned.
"You are trying to legislate courtesy, folks, and that just doesn't work," Mica said during the hearing.
If the bill passed, it may cause some confusion for international travelers, as the European Union is already creating a framework that will allow passengers to make calls, send text messages, and use e-mail on their mobile phones.