The Teamsters don’t believe that an airplane cabin should resemble a teenager’s bedroom. That’s why President James P. Hoffa wrote to the head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) last week asking the agency not to move forward with proposed changes that would allow passengers to speak on cell phones while in flight.
In the Dec. 3 letter, President Hoffa told FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler he is concerned that allowing calls while in the air could not only hamper the passenger experience, but the safety of airline workers and all those aboard as well. The Teamsters represent more than 80,000 industry workers, including flight attendants and pilots.
“Permitting the use of cell phones for in flight calls is unnecessary, unpopular, and potentially dangerous for Teamster members both as recreational passengers and on the job as first responders and the last line of defense in our nation’s aviation system,” he wrote. “I urge you to reconsider the expected proposal.”
Since the FCC announced last month it would consider a rulemaking addressing the use of wireless devices on planes during flight, Americans have made it clear they don’t want to hear their fellow passengers chatting away next to them. A HuffPost/YouGov poll found 49 percent of people don’t want passengers to be allowed to make phone calls on planes even if the FCC determines their use in flight is safe, compared to 31 percent who would want them allowed.
Already some in the airline industry are pushing back. Delta Airlines, in a nod to its passenger’s will, announced it will not allow talking on phones while planes are in the air even if the FCC says there is no safety-based reason such phones shouldn’t be allowed and others are likely to follow.
The federal agency argues it is merely looking at the technical aspects and it will be up to the individual airlines whether to allow chatting in midair. The issue is, as the FCC readily admits, it is not charged with determining inflight safety. And it isn’t difficult to see where potential problems could arise that could jeopardize those who work and travel in the skies.
The FCC is slated to vote on the proposal Thursday. It should hang up on it now.