back to article US law makers seek ban on in-flight calls

A group of US congressmen have introduced legislation which would ban the use of mobile phones on US aircraft, attempting to "ensure a relative amount of peace for the American public as they take to an increasingly crowded sky". The particularly stupidly-named HANG UP Act (Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace) seeks to ban …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I disagree, but....

    "The group quotes figures that have 63 per cent of Americans against the use of mobiles on planes. "

    If their flight was delayed and their wife was waiting for them at the airport are they still OK with that? What if it was rerouted and you had to tell the hotel or they give the room to someone else so she and the kids have to sleep in the airport, still fine with that?

    I'm against mobile phones in aircraft, but that's different from *banning* their use.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    No title

    Huh? Is that a pig I see flying past my window?

    A sensible law in the US, what's next?

  3. Pete Silver badge

    while we're at it

    let's ban screaming babies from planes too.

    > For politicians this kind of legislation is great, however - it has a near-zero chance of becoming law, allowing them to look as though they're fighting for public rights while actually doing nothing

    If only there were reliable ways to keep them doing nothing. We'd all be much better off if they stopped interfering in our everyday lives. Just how many laws are "enough" anyway?

  4. Anonymous Coward

    What a bunch of tossers

    It is truly amazing the number of ways that public officials find to waste their time and our Tax-money on moronic hair-brained schemes.

  5. James

    Ban voice calls, period

    I see no problem with allowing text messaging or internet access. Even better, let me connect up my lappy to my phone. But for the love of God ban voice calls whether from a mobile or a provided phone. At a stretch, put one phone, next to the bogs, at a quid a minute that gets distributed to all other passengers as compensation, so that a real emergency call can be made. For anything else, use text. VoIP banned too.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Re: I disagree, but....

    You can send text message, that one will not be banned. Easy.

    Damn, something intelligent from states. We haven't had it for ages ;) Or I just wander who's going to profit from it.

  7. GettinSadda

    Can someone explain?

    Can someone tell me what it is about that magic bit of wire that attaches the seatback phone to the plane's comms system (as opposed to the radio link used by the proposed mobile phone version) that makes the existing phones acceptable, but mobiles so bad that they should be banned by law?

    And don't say it is anything to do with electronic interference because the article makes it clear that it is the act of talking on the phone, rather than any interference problem, that is the root of all mobe-based evil.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Agree, ban voice calls AND sounds

    But not just on planes. Do the same on buses, trains, bus shelters -- in fact, any public place where there isn't a room specifically set aside for making or receiving voice calls.

  9. cor

    While they're at it:

    Ban overweight Americans from planes.

    Ban chatty people from planes.

    Ban terrorists from planes.

    Ban bachelor parties from planes.

    Ban under 12 y.o. from planes.

    Ban whiners and clappers from planes.

    Ban undeservedly vain, rude staff from planes.

    Ban excess luggage carriers from planes.

    Ban no legroom from planes.

    Ban livestock from planes (you know who you are, Mr. 'mind-my-goat-while-I-have-a-leak' down in Angola).

    Ban EasyJet customers from airports.

    Ban one-door-for-all planes (Aeroflot).

    No coat for me - I'm donning the last working parachute.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Further proof

    That any law that is named for an acronym should be automatically discounted:

    RAVE act

    PATRIOT act

    HANG UP etc. etc.

    This doesn't mean that I want people yakking on the phone next to me at any time (I travel in the no-mobiles carrige on trains etc) BUT: This act is clearly being put in place because it is European planes and European telcos who will profit and to maintain the profits of the existing seat-based phones.

    Personally I think that planes should be equiped with a cabin, separate to the rest of the plane, where you can use your phone. Preferably in the hold.

  11. Spleen

    Something needs to be hanged, alright

    "Polls show that the American public is strongly opposed to allowing cell phone use in-flight. The HANG UP Act will make sure it does not happen."

    If the American public was strongly opposed to cell phone use in-flight, they would refuse to fly on planes that allowed cell phone use and plane companies would acquiesce to the demands of the market, you polit POS. Don't let me get in the way of your burning desire to make yourself feel more useful, though. "The world sucks! What shall we do? I know! Let's make more laws!" Presumably laws to ban screaming children and overly loud MP3 players are also on their way. Or maybe noise is just a fact of life when you cram 100 people who don't know each other, will never meet each other again, and thus feel no need to be considerate of one another, into a small space.

    When I succeed in buying a nuke off the Russian black market and start my own country, the first article of the constitution will state "All legislation will be written in gold ink on platinum paper, and all legislators in favour of the bill must donate £1 million (adjusted for inflation) to the Treasury before it is passed."

    It follows a fairly standard bit of economic theory - if the actual cost of something does not reflect the cost to society, then put a tax on it so the consumer pays the full cost and consumption will fall to the level that is best for society. Clearly writing a law has an 'external cost' in terms of the people affected by unseen adverse consequences, the cost of enforcing it, the extra money made by lawyers, etc, and this cost is not born by the people who make the law. Imagine if petrol was 1p a litre and cars £50 each - they'd choke the streets and the air within a week. That's what we've got with laws, a hideous overabundance. We need a tax on them, a big one. All legislation that is actually worthwhile will easily find enough willing contributors to pay the tax - look at all the money that goes into making Sarah's Law happen, and imagine how much money you'd get for a proposed law which wasn't utterly terrible.

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I would concur only

    if they ban children and babies, preferably from all public services. Or provide gags as standard.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Noisome interruptions in search of further revenue"

    What's the problem here? I thought that doing *anything*, noisome or not, in pursuit of further revenue was the American Way[tm] ...

  14. DM

    Free that speech!

    It's not allowing mobiles that's the issue, it's training people to realise that the sound only needs to travel 6 inches from their mouth to the reciever.

    I'm in favour of allowing next time I'm sat on the tarmac or circling above some dingy town I can let people know not to bother coming to pick me up just yet!

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    re: Concurring Anonymous Coward

    You'd be surprised how much noise you can make whilst gagged.

  16. Ivan Headache

    Just come back from Hong Kong where

    I was extremely surprised to find that virtually every resident has a mobile phone and they all use them on the underground. Their system obviously works well - phones ring, chirrup, buzz and go Ying Tong all over the place - and the noise is horrendous.

    They don't shout into their phones like morons in the UK and many cover their mouths while they talk, but it's the sheer number of people talking at once that makes it so noisy.

    I was glad to get back to London (no not really) where mobiles will never work on the underground.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Seems an odd thing to be bothered about, especially in a countrry where you're supposed to be free to do whatever you want. This wouldn't have anything to do with representing their campaign sponsors, would it? For the airline industry those expensive phones in the back of seats are a money spinner. Presumably they don't do SMS and internet, and the airlines would have to make substantial new investment in order to do so, therefore mobiles are not competition in those areas.

    Anyway, quick run down of top campaign contributors for the two congressman mentioned in the article:

    Peter DeFazio - Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (1), Air Line Pilots Association (1), Communications Workers of America (1), Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union (1).

    Jerry Costello - Air Line Pilots Association (2), Machinists/Aerospace Workers Union (2), Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (7), Communications Workers of America (7).

  18. Frank Bough

    Noisome disruption in search of further revenue

    Doesn't this phrase describe about 50% of ALL business activities?

  19. Mike Richards

    @Anonymous Coward

    'If their flight was delayed and their wife was waiting for them at the airport are they still OK with that?'

    Spookily, all the airports I've ever used possess strange devices called 'Arrivals Boards' which tell the cognisenti the estimated times a plane will land and even say if the flight has been delayed.

    From experience, the people on board a plane are usually the last to know if their flight is going to be late.

  20. chris

    let's just.......

    Let's just ban PEOPLE. People annoy me, they are inconsiderate, all they do is disrupt me while I'm on the plane.

    There should be a law that bans PEOPLE from planes. Then there will be plenty of peace and quiet in the planes.

    My guess is that they are Democrats because that's the m.o.of that party. "Government control of the people as to suppress their rights as Americans."

  21. Anonymous Coward

    @ While they're at it:

    "Ban whiners and clappers from planes."

    YES! F*kwits! do they clap the roadsweeper too? a round of applause for the dentist... clap for the gynacologist? (isn't that why they ware gloves?) clap? go the the f*cking clinic morons.

  22. TimM

    Use for delays etc... no

    "If their flight was delayed and their wife was waiting for them at the airport are they still OK with that? What if it was rerouted and you had to tell the hotel or they give the room to someone else so she and the kids have to sleep in the airport, still fine with that?"

    We've managed to cope through 100 or so years of airline travel without needing to ring people about delays, so why start now? Besides, most people waiting at an airport will know it's delayed or re-routed. Airlines will (eventually) sort you out anyway if re-routed and phoning ahead is not really going to make a difference.

    Allow this and we start getting people ringing up because the pilot has announced they will be 5 minutes late, and it's all (shouting)"hello! I'm on the plane!.... we're going to be 5 minutes late!!... oh, you haven't got to the airport yet anyway? I'll call you again in a few minutes!!", etc. (whilst the guy behind prepares to smack you over the head with the in flight magazine).

  23. Matt


    Gets my vote.

    Although trying to smuggle in the word "noisome" doesn't!

  24. Steve

    technical solution?

    The reason many people shout into their mobiles is because *they* can't hear the caller (external noise, or low volume from the caller) and so they assume (subconsciously) that their caller can't hear them. Perhaps the solution is to ensure that the audio level from the on-board picocell and controller is several dB louder than standard? That way when people hear a loud voice in their ear, they'll not feel the need to shout back?

    Oh yes, and bill the calls at $10/minute send and receive, but with SMS free. That will be fine for emergencies, but will stop the 30-minute yakkers, or at least confine them to First class with the others who can afford to pay that for a phone call. Works for the seatback phones.

  25. Andus McCoatover

    Crowded skies???

    "...ensure a relative amount of peace for the American public as they take to an increasingly crowded sky"

    WTF has the 'increasing crowded skies' gotta do with this? Sheesh, effing staggered they didn't use the "T" word. That'd do it.

    OK, my vote is to stop folks talking to each other in trains/planes/restaurants. What's the bleeding difference?

    Oh, and to the bloke who mentioned 'information screens' - no bleeding use until the 'other half' is at the frigging airport. Sodding hell...

  26. Tim


    Because the seat back GTE airphones cost $10 a minute so nobody uses them. Plus they are a pain in the arse to set up for receiving calls (and that costs the same).

    Airlines will set the cost of mobile usage much lower to encourage use (hence generate income). The congressmen are right: this is being done to raise revenue, not to meet customer demand.

    I a million miles of flying I have had many, many delays and cancellations. I have never encountered a situation where being able to make a call in the air would have been useful. Good to pass the time with a chat maybe, but not useful. Think about it: if you're delayed, you know about it before you take off. If your destination airport is closed for weather then the wife and kids picking you up know that also. Holding pattern delays on landing are never so long they make a difference and you can get the mobile out when you're on the ground anyway.

    No, this won't become a law. But it will help to stigmatise phones on planes, reducing their use.

  27. DM


    Ah well, we've survived for a 100 years, yes why bother. Whilst we're at it, lets sit back and survey the world, our work here is done. No need to improve chaps, time for a holiday. Survived without mobile phones and computers you say? Jolly good. Lets get rid of it all. Electricity? far too modern!

    Ah suck it up, I can't wait to be "ON THE PLANE!"

    /Mine's the loin cloth, next to the club!

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "they would refuse to fly on planes that allowed cell phone use and plane companies would acquiesce to the demands of the market"

    Um, no. When one airline allows it, everyone who wants to use their cellphone will flock to them, and every other airline will follow suit to avoid losing their customers.

    @Andus McCoatover: Every airline has a website that lets you check the status of any flight. You can even call them if you're on the road.

  29. Len Goddard

    No smoking -> no phoning

    They used to put the smokers at the back of the plane and have a no-smoking light. Why not recycle the no-smoking signs into no-phoning signs and put all the chatterboxes at the back so the rest of us can sleep in peace.

  30. Jolyon Ralph


    I can see a time when using phones on a plane can be useful, but the biggest problem with this is not outgoing calls, it's incoming calls.

    These are calls you'll get charged to receive as well, and probably a small fortune.

    Many people, for some insane reason, seem unable to actually get rid of a call they don't want or need to take, so will unhappily keep listening while caller blathers on about whatever it might be without saying "Hey, i'm on the plane, please go away". These are the sort of people who find it unbelievable that I leave my mobile turned off a great deal of the time (for example, my mobile isn't turned on when I'm at home in the evenings - shock horror!). They can't comprehend not being contactable. Poor people.

    This problem doesn't happen with the credit card greedphones that are currently installed in seatbacks on some planes of course.

    I also feel sorry for anyone who has an element of a support role in their lives. Previously the plane was one of the few times you could legitimately escape contact - but alas no more - you'll be expected to be in contact even when in flight, and if you for some reason don't take the call it'll suddenly be your fault again.

    Nothing good comes of this, I tell you!


  31. Jonathan Richards

    I don't think that word means...

    ...what you think it means.

    noisome : 1382, "harmful, noxious," from noye "harm, misfortune," shortened form of anoi "annoyance" (from O.Fr. anoier, see annoy) + -some. Meaning "bad-smelling" first recorded 1577. [1]

    It's got nothing to do with *noisy*, and everything to do with *foul*. Just about fits, any way you look at it.

    [1] Online Etymology Dictionary. Douglas Harper, Historian. (accessed: April 17, 2008).

  32. John Hoar

    Clapping on planes

    I think there was just one time when I thought it was marginally justified.

    The plane was coming into in a big storm at Gatwick yawing nastily; the captain knew it, the cabin crew knew it and the passengers with windows seats on the left hand side watching the ground disappearing underneath the plane sure as hell knew it.

    Big cheers all round it was.

    "Mr Boeing makes exceptionally good planes."

  33. Robert Conlon


    In his campaign ads Mr DeFazio cruises around with one of his octogenerian constituents in his 1967 Dodge Dart railing about "how things used to be". It's not just cell phones, he's pretty hostile about TV, microwave ovens, and indoor plumbing too.

    Yes I voted for him,you should have seen the other guy.

  34. TranceMist

    Everyone except the lawmakers

    Watch them exempt themselves.

  35. Anonymous Coward

    Just add a new 'feature'

    With new phones coming out with GPS installed it wouldn't be difficult to add a feature to disable all calls if the phone is going faster than, say, 15MPH.

    An exception for emergency services could be included.

    That would get all those d@mn people on the bus to stop yakking when I'm trying to sleep.

  36. Pyros

    < sarcasm >

    "This problem doesn't happen with the credit card greedphones that are currently installed in seatbacks on some planes of course."

    Oh, that's obvious. What's the number for THOSE phones? Go ahead, tell me...

    Didn't think you knew, nor did anyone else, for that matter. Those things NEVER take an incoming call.

    (And, for the record, it's rare that I see anyone taking a call on their mobile on a plane.)

  37. Herby

    How to ban cell phones...

    Make sure that whatever the airlines do, there are NO additional charges. Make the rates the same as "on land". If there no incentive for the airlines, it WON'T happen.

    Peace and quiet for me. Where is the "no crying babies" section? Where is the duct tape and sock I had stashed somewhere.....

  38. GeekBanker

    RE: the American Way[tm] ..

    While the comment was sarcastic I think that the free market would have more than taken care of this. So 63% of people don't want cellphones on planes mean that 37% would like cellphones or are indifferent (a significant market). Airlines would then have to align themselves either for or against allowing cell usage on planes. Don't like calls on their flights, go with NoCellAir... I think you get the idea.

    This is clearly a case where a lawmaker wants his preference the norm, or is looking to get some publicity for himself. Either way, bad reasons to make a law to govern the whole of the populace, cell phone loving or not.

  39. RW


    Has any El Reg reader tried the tactic of joining in the conversation going on next to them on a cellphone, making witty suggestions, and offering astute advice? "Don't believe him, he's a lying scumbag, tell him so!"

    or "No, no, not rutabagas, they're radioactive these days."

    I'm wondering just what ensues when you try this.

    First hand reports, please.

    There's an orange in my coat pocket, gotta run now!

  40. Dave

    Am I missing something here?

    But I thought mobiles were banned on planes?

    They certainly were when I came back from Amsterdam on a regular flight this afternoon.

    Or are we talking just about US domestic flights here?

  41. Samson David

    The URL of this story is "congress_ban_on_in_flight_calling"

    At least it wasnt "calling for ban on in flight congress" (The horizontal sort anyhow).


    *heads off to buy his plane ticket*

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