Markey provisions on drone privacy, cell phone use on planes, and extreme weather also included


Washington (June, 29, 2017) – The Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee today approved legislation that would reauthorize the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Several amendments from Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) were included in the bill, including an amendment to ensure airline change and cancellation fees are reasonable. The legislation also includes Senator Markey provisions that better protect the privacy of Americans from commercial and government drones, ban cell phone calls on planes, and begin a study evaluating the adverse impacts of extreme weather on aircraft. The reauthorization legislation heads next to the full Senate.


“Airlines should not overcharge captive passengers just because they need to change or cancel their flight, and my amendment will protect consumers from these sky-high fees,” said Senator Markey, a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. “I am pleased that this reauthorization bill also includes my other provisions that promote consumers rights, including drone privacy protections and saving airlines passengers from distracting and unnecessary cell phone chatter on planes. This legislation also includes my amendment to study on the adverse impacts of extreme weather on our aviation system, a growing concern as climate change impacts become stronger and more frequent. I thank Chairman Thune and Ranking Member Nelson for their leadership on this bill, and look forward to working with them closely as this legislation moves forward.” 


The following Markey provisions were included in the FAA reauthorization legislation that passed the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation today:


  • FAIR Fees – Senator Markey, Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), and Senator Richard Blumenthal’s (D-Conn.) Forbidding Airlines from Imposing Ridiculous (FAIR) Fees amendment, as modified, would ensure that change and cancellation fees are reasonable.  It would also direct the FAA to establish standards for assessing whether baggage, seat selection, same day change, and other fees are reasonable and proportional to the costs of the services provided.  In May, Senator Markey and Senator Blumenthal reintroduced the FAIR Fees Act.


  • Drone Privacy – Senator Markey’s drone privacy provisions enhanced the commercial and government drone database established by the bill by requiring drone operators to disclose if they collect personally identifiable information about an individual, how the personal data will be used, and when the sensitive information will be destroyed.  Senator Markey’s provisions also ensure that American’s have access to information regarding the location, purpose of flight, and technical capabilities of government drones, and improve the data minimization of government drones and encourage privacy research at drone test sites.  Many of these safeguards are included in the Drone Aircraft Privacy and Transparency Act, which Senator Markey and Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt.) introduced in March.


  • No Cell Phone Calls on Planes – Senator Markey’s amendment would require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to prohibit the use of mobile devices for voice communications while flying.  Passengers should not have to suffer through the conversations of others, and flight crews should not be disrupted while performing their important safety and security duties. Senator Markey and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) recently introduced bipartisan legislation prohibiting the use of cell phones for voice calls during flight.


  • Aviation Extreme Weather Study – Senator Markey’s amendment would commission a study on the effects of extreme weather on commercial air travel.  Recently, American Airlines was forced to cancel dozens of flights in Phoenix due to an extreme heatwave that made the air so thin some smaller jets could not take off.