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Feinstein, Alexander Propose Ban on In-Flight Cellphone Calls

(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)
(Douglas Graham/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Sens. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., have drafted legislation to keep airplanes free of the sounds of chatty cellphone users.

The two senators introduced a bill Thursday to prohibit using the voice functions of cellphones on commercial flights. They wouldn’t block the use of texting or data features, however.

“Keeping phone conversations private on commercial flights may not be enshrined in the Constitution, but it is certainly enshrined in common sense,” Alexander said in a statement. “This legislation is about avoiding something nobody wants: nearly 2 million passengers a day, hurtling through space, trapped in 17-inch-wide seats, yapping their innermost thoughts.”

Alexander made his thoughts about cellphone calls on airplanes crystal clear in a statement issued Nov. 26, indicating he had no interest in hearing fellow passengers “babbling about last night’s love life, bathroom plans, next week’s schedule, orders to an assistant, arguments with spouses.”

It turns out Feinstein seems to be a kindred spirit.

“Flying on a commercial airline — in a confined space, often for many hours — is a unique travel experience that is, candidly, not conducive to numerous passengers talking on cellphones. This bill recognizes the use of cellphones to make calls during flights can be disruptive and irritating to other passengers and would prevent such communications during domestic flights,” Feinstein said in a statement.

The Feinstein-Alexander bill comes as the Federal Communications Commission is considering the use of in-flight cellphone communications by passengers, a move that comes after the Federal Aviation Administration eased restrictions on in-flight electronics.

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