Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 9, 2015

Feinstein, Alexander Propose Ban on In-Flight Cellphone Calls

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have drafted legislation to keep airplanes free of the sounds of chatty cellphone users.

The two senators introduced a bill Thursday to prohibit using the voice functions of cellphones on commercial flights. They wouldn’t block the use of texting or data features, however.

“Keeping phone conversations private on commercial flights may not be enshrined in the Constitution, but it is certainly enshrined in common sense,” Alexander said in a statement. “This legislation is about avoiding something nobody wants: nearly 2 million passengers a day, hurtling through space, trapped in 17-inch-wide seats, yapping their innermost thoughts.”

Alexander made his thoughts about cellphone calls on airplanes crystal clear in a statement issued Nov. 26, indicating he had no interest in hearing fellow passengers “babbling about last night’s love life, bathroom plans, next week’s schedule, orders to an assistant, arguments with spouses.”

It turns out Feinstein seems to be a kindred spirit.

“Flying on a commercial airline — in a confined space, often for many hours — is a unique travel experience that is, candidly, not conducive to numerous passengers talking on cellphones. This bill recognizes the use of cellphones to make calls during flights can be disruptive and irritating to other passengers and would prevent such communications during domestic flights,” Feinstein said in a statement.

The Feinstein-Alexander bill comes as the Federal Communications Commission is considering the use of in-flight cellphone communications by passengers, a move that comes after the Federal Aviation Administration eased restrictions on in-flight electronics.

Comments (59)

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  1. jdrch

    Dec. 13, 2013
    1:58 p.m.

    Since conversations are so annoying, let’s just ban people talking altogether while we’re at it. I don’t get the war on mobile phone use at all. That’s not the only way to disturb others in public, and it’s far from the most annoying.

  2. DurkaDurka

    Dec. 13, 2013
    4 p.m.

    I’m sure the passengers on planes during 9-11 would have been all for this bill. Or not.

  3. Fred Glick

    Dec. 14, 2013
    9:33 a.m.

    Too bad you can use google voice now on a plane.

    • Steve Rosenberger

      Dec. 18, 2013
      8:56 a.m.

      Good point. Add VoIP to the ban on inflight chat torture. Before it’s too late.

  4. Belleburgh

    Dec. 14, 2013
    10:03 a.m.

    I’m all for this. I ride a bus everyday and wish they would ban them on buses. I really can’t believe Diane Feinstein and I agree on anything!

  5. Chumba Wumba

    Dec. 14, 2013
    11:45 p.m.

    Without centralized power to coerce, small groups of quacks and academics have no way to force people to chase their ever-shifting mirage of utopian illusions.

  6. Paul

    Dec. 15, 2013
    11:25 a.m.

    I think they should be banned in other
    public places such as restaurants, stores, and parks…

    Are you guys really serious. Why
    should the feds be wasting their time on a minor issue like talking
    on cell phones on airplanes. It is not a safety issue? Do you
    really want more big brother in your life? If people what to
    spread their dirty laundry in public, it’s up to them. Using
    what many consider common courtesy should be sufficient. There are
    always jerks in the world, perhaps that should be regulated as well.

    • Steve Rosenberger

      Dec. 18, 2013
      8:53 a.m.

      Not a safety issue? You obviously don’t fly much. It would lead to bloodshed.

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