Jan. 17, 2005 -- Keep the friendly skies quiet -- that's what air travelers are saying as the Federal Communications Commission and the Federal Aviation Administration review the ban on in-flight cell phone use. The two agencies announced last month they were considering lifting that ban because wireless technology may have become sophisticated enough that it won't disrupt wireless networks or in-flight navigation systems, which initially concerned the agencies.
Beyond that technical issue, though, there's a social component -- does anyone really want to hear a nearby passenger speaking loudly or carrying on during a redeye, or want to be reachable at all times? Apparently not, according to a USA Today/CNN/Gallup poll released last week. Seventy percent of occasional or frequent fliers supported the ban, with women and seniors weighing in as particular advocates of it.
The agencies are seeking public comment on the matter, but it may not come down to a question of whether consumers want in-flight peace. After all, should the FCC and FAA find cell phones don't interfere with other systems, they may have a hard time banning them for etiquette's sake.