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Debate On Plane Phone Calls Moves On, Gets Bigger

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Pat Warren joined the Eyewitness News team in 1992. Pat came to WJZ...
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WASHINGTON (WJZ)–The Federal Communications Commission considers lifting the ban on using cell phones in-flight. Right now, making calls while the plane is in the air is not allowed.

Pat Warren has more on the pros and cons of the proposal.

The FCC is taking public input, but already has a pretty good earful of how a lot of people feel.

The FCC banned in-flight cell phone calls for technical reasons, but technology has caught up with the smartphone public, and now there’s no reason to ban it.

“I’m the last person in the world who wants to listen to someone talking to me while I fly across the country. But we are the technical agency and we will make the technical rules that will reflect the way the new technology works,” said Tom Wheeler, FCC chairman.

What the FCC doesn’t control is the nuisance factor.

WJZ asked passengers at BWI-Marshall how they feel about phoning in-flight.

“No, I wouldn’t,” said Sultana Hasan, passenger.

“I really don’t care. I don’t fly enough, so it wouldn’t affect me,” said Betty Sargeant, passenger.

“I’m OK with that because I’m usually in my zone when I’m flying,” said Leslie Robinson, passenger.

But others have strong arguments against it.

“I can’t imagine having a hundred people on board yapping away about whatever in close quarters.  It would absolutely ruin air travel. It’s good enough that they let us use electronic devices the whole time,” said Aaron Williams, passenger.

Another federal agency, the Department of Transportation, will decide if allowing the calls is fair to consumers.

Two members of the Senate have introduced a bill to ban in-flight cell phone conversations.

If the FCC lifts the ban, it’s still up to the airlines to set their own policies on phone use.

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