By Keith Laing
The sponsor of a bill in the House to ban airlines from allowing passengers to talk on their cellphones during flights said he was offering the legislation because in-flight phone calls would cause "a lot of chaos" on airplanes.
Appearing on Fox Business Network's "Money" show, Rep. Bill Shuster (R-Pa.) said he was in favor of allowing passengers to use other electronic devices, including their cell phones in data mode.
But Shuster said he could not support letting airline passengers make calls from the friendly skies, and he argued most passengers probably agree with him.
"I'm against it because I think that in an airline situation, that it's a confined area, small spaces with many people. I think allowing people to use their cellphones to communicate by voice cause a lot of chaos, a lost noise," he said.
"And I think for most of the traveling public, they want a quiet and uneventful experience," Shuster continued. "And I just think with 200 people talking on the phone, just imagine, sitting between two people. One having a conversation with the day's events with spouse and other sitting next to you having a disagreement with business partner for two or three hours."
Shuster is introducing his bill as the Federal Communication Commission is scheduled to vote on Thursday about launching a review of its prohibition on in-flight cellphone calls in the wake of a separate decision by the Federal Aviation Administration to expand airplane portable electronic use.
The Pennsylvania lawmaker said his bill was not meant to stop airline passengers from communicating. He said they could still use their phones for other forms of messages.
"We're able to communicate now; we're allowing folks to use texting and emailing online when they're on the planes," he said. "I just don't think we need to go to that level of communication because some things we have to take kids somewhere and people are bringing food on the planes. But I just don't think we need to do that. I think it will be a huge negative blow to social discourse because you probably been on planes before as have I where people are talking incessantly the whole time."
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has said that he is planning to introduce a bill similar to Shuster's in the Senate.