Congress Urges FCC to Maintain Ban on Cellphone Calls Onboard Commercial Aircraft

At the urging of the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM), the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA), the Transport Workers Union (TWU) and the AFL-CIO’s Transportation Trades Department (TTD), members of Congress yesterday took action to continue the ban on mobile voice calls onboard commercial aircraft.

In a letter to Congress, IAM International President Tom Buffenbarger cautioned that passengers would be distracted from listening to very important safety briefings by flight crews if permitted to make mobile voice calls while onboard aircraft.

“In addition, these vocal conversations could easily lead to confrontations among passengers who do not wish to hear other passenger’s phone calls,” wrote Buffenbarger. “Cabin crew members already have enough problems with ‘air rage’ on the plane and having people talk loudly on the phone would only contribute to this increased anger.”

Representatives Dan Lipinski (D-IL) and David McKinley (R-WV) led the bi-partisan effort to maintain the prohibition on mobile voice calls in the event the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) lifts the ban, a move the agency is still considering.??

Congress also pressed for interagency collaboration within the Obama Administration to head off the potential unintended consequences of the FCC’s proposal to expand the use of wireless communications on airborne commercial flights.

Read Representatives Lipinski and McKinley’s letter.