House committee approves bill banning in-flight cell phone conversations
February 11th, 2014
01:41 PM ET
9 years 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.

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"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. FStocking

    Finally Congress (Republican and Democrat) do something the majority of the people want. If in another country politicians took money from companies we would call them corrupt. It's time we called our politicians what they really are corrupt.

    February 11, 2014 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  2. Rudy NYC

    They ban cell phones on commuter trains in the NYC area. They sometimes have a special car where you go run your mouth.

    February 11, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  3. Garry

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

    How quickly people forget."

    Just as they did on 9/11, you break the rules to meet the emergency. It's done everyday.

    February 11, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  4. palintwit

    Today is Sarah Palin's birthday everybody. What are you doing to celebrate?

    February 11, 2014 03:05 pm at 3:05 pm |
  5. Sniffit

    What's farting on the train?

    February 11, 2014 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  6. just saying

    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

    you do seem to stumble into reality once and a while... nice to see you back though i know it is only for a short time.

    February 11, 2014 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  7. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ just saying


    February 11, 2014 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  8. TMB

    I can't even get a signal that high up!

    February 11, 2014 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  9. The REAL Truth...

    @JSB – I am surprised that the average US citizen is so willing to allow themselves to be muzzled.
    Muzzled? You can't use your cell phone – or other electronic device – on a plane right now.. Haven't been able to for years.. and rightly so IMHO. Hardly a valid definition of muzzling, unless you're trolling again.

    February 11, 2014 03:26 pm at 3:26 pm |
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