National Voices

Thursday, Dec 19 2013 11:01 PM

OTHER VIEWS: Let airlines decide on cellphone use aloft

As if bawling babies, sardine-tin seating and jammed overhead bins aren't enough, modern air travel may soon include the joys of incessant, inane prattle of passengers on cellphones.

The Federal Communications Commission is poised to change its rules to clear the way for airlines to allow fliers to talk on cellphones above 10,000 feet. If there's no safety or technical reason to continue the ban, then the FCC should end it. But air carriers should tread carefully in deciding whether to allow cell conversations; the public opposes them 2 to 1, according to recent polling.

Air travelers already can use wi-fi devices above 10,000 feet to surf and email. Voice calls are the final frontier. Air carriers should try various approaches and let consumers decide which they prefer. Some could allow unrestricted voice calls. Others might limit calls to 30 minutes before landing, so fliers could call people meeting the flight. Segregated seating (chatterboxes in back, please) is another possibility. So is banning all calls. Carriers that OK calls should offer noise-canceling headphones for fliers looking to escape the din.

-- New York Newsday

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