|THUMBS DOWN: The U.S. Department of Transportation isn’t going
to give airlines a choice in allowing cell phone use or not.
The U.S. Department of Transportation is planning to make it illegal again.
DOT is preparing to substitute a ban lifted in December by the Federal
Communication Commission, forcing travelers to turn off their mobile devices as
soon as their airplanes leave the gate.
Though there is no formal decision yet, the department is preparing a “notice of
proposed rulemaking,” which is bureaucratese for “getting closer to making this
official and taking away your cell phones again,” the Wall Street Journal
reported this week.
DOT nannies are “focused primarily on the disruptive effects of voice calls
rather than texting or other data use, the Journal story said.
The FCC lifted the ban on cell phone use on planes after repeated scientific
studies — and an episode of Mythbusters — demonstrated the devices posed no
threat to airline safety, disruption of radio communications or electronics on
By February, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said the department was
already seeking input from the airline industry and the public on reinstating
the ban. Some airlines would prefer to prohibit the use of cell phones
in-flight, according to the Journal.
Some, maybe, but not all, prompting you to consider flying with those airlines
allowing in-flight calls. Others might choose airlines because cell calls are
forbidden. Either way, you think, the free market can sort this out.
[to top of second column]
The Department of Transportation, like the rest of our federal
government, thinks free market sorting is messy. Better to ban the
calls on all airlines. Don’t question the logic and put your cell
phone in airplane mode for the next four hours.
We believe it bears repeating: There is no safety hazard created by
allowing cell phone use on planes in-flight. If there were we would
welcome government guidelines. But since there isn’t, how about
letting carriers and their customers work something out?
Travelers are allowed to use cell phones and other small electronic
devices on airplanes in Europe and most of the rest of the world.
But in America, following the arbitrary rules set by federal
nannies, flying the friendly skies means having your baggage rifled
and getting your personal baggage groped. Cell phone use on planes
is a luxury we can do without.
For their proposed ban, the Department of Transportation is this
week’s winner. Its prize is a bunch of really important calls staff
isn’t allowed to answer.
Boehm can be reached at EBoehm@Watchdog.org and follow @EricBoehm87
and @WatchdogOrg on Twitter for more.
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