Associations Chime in on Cellphones on Flights

The Global Business Travel Association has joined many fliers in opposing a proposal to allow passengers to make cellphone calls on flights. Meanwhile, two major airline associations questioned whether the Transportation Department has the authority to regulate the issue at all.

If the idea of cellphone calls on planes annoys you, you’re not alone.

The Global Business Travel Association, a trade group representing business travelers’ interests, took a strong stance against the Federal Communications Commission’s plan to allow voice calls on flights.

The association is far from the first to chime in against in-flight calls: The Department of Transportation has been bombarded with hundreds of comments against the proposal, the Los Angeles Times noted, but the GBTA’s influence (and the buying power of business travelers in general) could give the argument some weight.

In a comment to the agency, the trade group made a reference to the legendary folk singer Pete Seeger.

“In short, there is a time to speak out and a time to keep silent,” GBTA Executive Director and Chief Operating Officer Michael W. McCormick said in a media release.

McCormick noted that it would be difficult to get away from a chatty passenger using a cellphone on a plane.

“Unlike Amtrak’s ‘quiet cars,’ GBTA does not believe it is feasible to create talk-free sections of aircraft,” the association said. “DOT should not add to business traveler’s misery. On commercial aircraft in the United States, silence is golden.”

GBTA isn’t the only association taking a position: Last week, Airlines for America and the International Air Transport Association delivered a joint statement, in which they questioned DOT’s jurisdiction on the issue while sidestepping whether they would support calls on flights.

“If Congress wants to impose a statutory ban on mobile voice communications during commercial flights, it unquestionably has the power to do so,” the associations wrote in their joint comments. “The department does not have that power, however, and cannot lawfully act in this area absent express authority.”


Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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