House committee approves bill banning in-flight cell phone conversations
February 11th, 2014
01:41 PM ET
2 months ago

House committee approves bill banning in-flight cell phone conversations

(CNN) - A bill banning cell phone calls during flights was approved Tuesday by the House Transportation Committee.

The bill's sponsor, committee chairman Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pennsylvania, said the confines of an airplane force passengers unwittingly to listen to the conversations of fellow fliers, and that's why banning in-flight voice communications is necessary.

"My message is simple when it comes to cellphones on planes: tap, don't talk," he said in an op-ed published Monday in The Hill.

The Transportation Committee's approval of Shuster's bill follows moves by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to lift a decades-old ban on cell phone use on aircrafts. The FCC says new technology has made the previous ban concerning technical issues obsolete.

When the FCC announced last year its plans toward lifting the ban, the Department of Transportation, responsible for safe air travel as well as protecting the rights of air travelers, and members of Congress sought to block the move.

The FCC proposal would allow calls, texts and other mobile device services when the aircraft is flying above 10,000 feet, but not during takeoff and landing, and would ultimately allow commercial airlines to decide whether to allow the cell phone use.

The bill approved by the Transportation Committee Tuesday would allow for use of mobile and tablet devices, but no voice communications.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, and Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tennessee, have also introduced bills barring cell phone conversations on commercial airline flights. The Association of Flight Attendants also opposes lifting the cell phone ban.

A Quinnipiac University poll released in December indicated that 59% of Americans didn't want the use of cell phones on airplanes, with only three in ten in favor of lifting the ban. A mute button is also strong option among those polled.

CNN's Mike Ahlers and Katia Hetter contributed to this report.


Filed under: House
soundoff (34 Responses)
  1. The REAL Truth...

    WOW !! I'm impressed.. a GOP member of Congress actually did something useful. The first thing since Jan 2009! Accolades are due....

    February 11, 2014 01:55 pm at 1:55 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Foolish. That's what prevented one plane from accomplishing its mission, in 9/11.

    How quickly people forget.

    February 11, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  3. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?

    Thank goodness Congress can do something right. Now back to the debt ceiling. We're watching GOP!!!

    February 11, 2014 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  4. Grambo

    Using a cell phone is NOT allowed in most movie theaters and you will be asked to leave. AMC did not need an act of congress to get this done. Unless its a question of Safety I dont see how this is the BIZ on congress.

    February 11, 2014 02:10 pm at 2:10 pm |
  5. Winning

    But the nanny state! Wait, as a conservative, how am I supposed to feel about this? I can't keep track of all the conflicting, rigid ideologies.

    February 11, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Sniffit

    IF there is no safety or other objective reason for this, and it's really just about regulating "politeness" or "it's annoying" or "I'm in congress, so I'm constantly on planes, and I don't want to be annoyed by yappy fellow passengers" then this is one you can truly just leave to the free market. Amtrak offers a "quiet car." Airlines can offer "quiet flights," etc. I seem to remember a report coming out that it's not really something that's required for safety reasons (other than perhaps the occasional irritable person throwing a punch), so where does that leave Congress on the rational relation test?

    February 11, 2014 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Wake up People!

    For a group that claims they want smaller government, they sure don't have a problem coming up with a bunch of idiotic laws.

    Still nothing on those jobs, jobs, Jobs....

    February 11, 2014 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. The REAL Truth...

    @Rick McDaniel – Foolish. That's what prevented one plane from accomplishing its mission, in 9/11.
    ------------------------
    Glenn Beck and Bobby jindal were correct. Have you ever tried to make cell phone call from a plane at 30,000 ft??? YOU CAN'T .. they don't work!! That's because cell towers and cell signal are horizontal in nature, not vertical. Without a picocell booster on a plane, you won't get a signal for very long, if at all. The call you reference (in my quote) on 9/11 couldn't have happened for more than a few seconds. It wasn't physically possible in 2001. It isn't NOW in most cases unless the plane has a booster installed!

    February 11, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  9. Hooper

    Glad to hear it. Nothing would be worse than setting next to one of you mental pygmy's making a phone call about nothing at all, to someone that knows less. All the time trapped like a rat.

    February 11, 2014 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  10. Warren

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Where's Our $24 Billion?
    Thank goodness Congress can do something right. Now back to the debt ceiling. We're watching GOP!!!

    and then let's get some JOBS............

    February 11, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  11. Anonymous

    I will keep my extensive gas reserves in check until final passage by the Senate and Obama. If not passed, I intend to violate the ban on gas warfare.

    February 11, 2014 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  12. Warren

    I'm surprised that the GOP did this. What about our right to be obnoxious??

    February 11, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  13. Ol' Yeller

    "Foolish. That's what prevented one plane from accomplishing its mission, in 9/11.

    How quickly people forget."

    Uh... I don't think it was any cell phone call that stopped that plane, rather some really hot coffee and some very, very, determined and brave Heroes (and they were Heroes by any definition and not that loosely flung about term which brands anyone in the service a hero, even if they only joined to get a deferred prosecution).
    It is a shame how people disremember (they didn't call 911, Rick; it WAS 9/11).
    Let's roll....

    February 11, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  14. tom l

    Once again, here comes the fed govt to the rescue (ish)! Tell me why this is something that Congress is involved in rather than the airlines and their passengers? Shouldn't each airline be able to decide whether they want to allow this or not? Once again, this is the govt imposing its beliefs on us. This should be decided by the airlines.

    February 11, 2014 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  15. Art336

    Praise the Lord!!

    February 11, 2014 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  16. Marie MD

    They finally do something and it's a good thing.
    You think road rage is bad. Try air rage and the only way to get rid of the pest(s) is to throw them out of the plane.
    @rick, what? Whatever it is you cannot compare a highjacked plane to a bunch of self appointed fools talking on the phone during a flight! Is this another conspiracy theory from faux news or the oxyaddict fat radio boy?

    February 11, 2014 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  17. Rudy NYC

    Okay, no talking. What about text messaging? I don't like people yacking on a phone when I'm trying to take a nap. They're worse than a crying infant. At least someone is their to appease the infant, and quiet the baby down. Not the bluetooth heads.

    February 11, 2014 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  18. Mike

    @Rick McDaniel – "Foolish. That's what prevented one plane from accomplishing its mission, in 9/11." You do realize they're talking about forbidding cell phone calls on routine flights? If something similar to 9/11 happened again, there would be 100 people on each plane reporting the situation, Congress' wishes be damned. And that's how it ought to be.

    February 11, 2014 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  19. just saying

    we really don't need brawls and fist fights breaking out on planes as loud and obnoxious people yell into their cell phone as everybody on the planes is forced to endure it for hours on end. so yes, it is a safety issue. do you want 100 flights a day diverted to airports to arrest people?

    unfortunately we simply cannot count on people to do the right thing anymore. there is no consideration for others.

    February 11, 2014 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  20. Steve, New York City

    I can't imagine enduring a flight, with 75 different cell phone conversations going on at the same time, where a captive audience has no choice but to put up with the auditory assault. Congress actually did something useful - wow – - hopefully this action won't get them in trouble with their lobbyist superiors.

    February 11, 2014 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  21. Thomas

    Thank you , make a fine for those that do think the law dose not apply to them .

    February 11, 2014 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  22. JSB

    I am surprised that the average US citizen is so willing to allow themselves to be muzzled. Imagine the other laws that could be passed. No talking on a public roadway, No cell phone usage in a public place etc. There is no right to not be annoyed by another person. There is no right to never meet a person that might offend your sensibilities. On the other hand the government IS forbidden to infringe upon freedom of speech and it seems that they are doing a damn good job of that.

    February 11, 2014 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  23. Randy, San Francisco

    Rep Shuster's bill deserves support from the othe side of the aisle. There should be no political bickering over this one.

    February 11, 2014 02:56 pm at 2:56 pm |
  24. The Real Tom Paine

    -just saying

    we really don't need brawls and fist fights breaking out on planes as loud and obnoxious people yell into their cell phone as everybody on the planes is forced to endure it for hours on end. so yes, it is a safety issue. do you want 100 flights a day diverted to airports to arrest people?

    unfortunately we simply cannot count on people to do the right thing anymore. there is no consideration for others
    ***********************
    I'll be damned, Hell must have just frozen over since I agree with you on something

    February 11, 2014 02:57 pm at 2:57 pm |
  25. stewart

    how is this smaller government tea baggers?. seems like you are trying to impose your values over everyone elsel.

    February 11, 2014 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
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