Legislation would allow texting, use of personal devices but prohibit cell phone conversations on flights  


WASHINGTON, D.C (June 27, 2017) – U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) today introduced bipartisan legislation directing the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to issue regulations to prohibit the use of cell phones for voice calls on airplanes. The legislation, the Commercial Flight Courtesy Act, would direct Transportation Department to issue regulations prohibiting the use of cell phones for voice communications on regularly scheduled commercial flights.  It would allow the use of personal electronic devices such as Kindles and iPads during flight, which the Federal Aviation Administration has approved.


“Passengers chatting on their mobile devices in the small confines of an airplane could make flying even less comfortable,” said Senator Markey. “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. I plan to fight for this legislation to be included in the FAA reauthorization bill.”  


“Stop and think about what we hear now in airport lobbies from those who wander around shouting personal details into their phones: babbling about next week’s schedule, orders to an assistant, or arguments with spouses,” said Senator Alexander. “Now imagine nearly two million passengers, hurtling through space yapping their innermost thoughts while you travel restrained by your seatbelt and unable to escape. Keeping phone conversations off commercial flights may not be enshrined in the Constitution, but surely it is enshrined in common sense.”


A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.


In December, 2013, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) began considering a rule change that could allow for the use of cell phones for phone conversations on flights. In April 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai terminated this rulemaking however future chairmen could reopen similar changes. 


“I commend Senator Markey and Senator Alexander for taking this common sense step to reducing an already stressful situation and improving safety,” said Michael McCormick, Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer of the Global Business Travel Association. “We urge members of the Senate Commerce Committee to join Senators Markey and Alexander and the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in prohibiting voice calls on airplanes.”


“No voice calls on planes is common sense. Flight Attendants stand with Senator Markey, Senator Alexander, and airline passengers to make it law,” said Sara Nelson, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants, CWA. “Together we will protect the public from this nuisance and thwart this security threat to aviation. The hundred thousand Flight Attendants in U.S. aviation urge Congress to act quickly to ban voice calls permanently and cut out one more condition that can lead to conflict in the air. Senator Markey and Senator Alexander have been steadfast champions on this issue for Flight Attendants and the passengers in our care. We cannot thank them enough.”