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Lawmakers warn in-flight calls could lead to fights

Dozens of lawmakers are warning that allowing people to talk on their cellphones on airplanes could lead to fights at 30,000 feet.

On Monday, 77 lawmakers warned four federal agencies that the potential move to allow people to have in-flight cellphone conversations could lead to heated arguments among passengers that distract officials’ attention and make planes less safe.

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“Passengers making voice calls during flight could impact the ability of crewmembers — flight attendants and pilots — to perform their jobs, keep passengers safe and the cabin environment calm,” lawmakers wrote in a letter coordinated by Reps. David McKinleyDavid McKinley10 Senate seats that could flip in 2018 Ethics panel scolds GOP lawmaker over namesake firm Lawmakers press concerns over fuel efficiency rules MORE (R-W.Va.) and Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.).

“Arguments in an aircraft cabin already start over mundane issues, like seat selection, reclining seats and overhead bin space, and the volume and pervasiveness of voice communications would only serve to exacerbate and escalate these disputes,” they added.

Multiple flights have been diverted due to fights over passengers reclining their seats.

Additionally, the lawmakers warned that wireless devices could cause interference or otherwise scramble airplanes’ mechanics.

Monday’s letter was sent to the heads of the Transportation, Homeland Security and Justice departments, and the Federal Communications Commission.

The FCC and DOT have made seemingly conflicting moves on in-flight cellphones. The FCC last year proposed lifting its ban on talking on cellphones on flights, while the DOT has signaled it would step in to ban cellphone calls.

The lawmakers seemed supportive of the DOT's plan to ban calls.

Before any rule goes forward, however, they also want to see a multi-agency review about possible hazards of people using cellphones and tablets onboard, both in terms of personal safety and possible mechanical interference. 

“By working together, the government can fully assess the comprehensive impact these proposals would have on passengers and crewmembers, as well as the safety and security of U.S. aviation,” they wrote.