TN bipartisan agreement: No phone talk on planes

In separate news releases, Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and Democratic U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen are both denouncing a Federal Communications Commission proposal to allow some cell phone conversations on airplanes.

Here are the handouts:

News release from Sen. Lamar Alexander’s office:
MARYVILLE, Nov. 26 – U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said today that he will introduce legislation, if necessary, to stop the Federal Communications Commission from allowing cell phone conversations on airplanes.

“Imagine two million passengers, hurtling through space, trapped in 17-inch-wide seats, yapping their innermost thoughts,” the senator said. “The Transportation Security Administration would have to hire three times as many air marshals to deal with the fistfights.”

Alexander continued. “Stop and think about what we hear now in airport lobbies from those who wander around shouting personal details into a microphone: babbling about last night’s love life, bathroom plans, next week’s schedule, orders to an assistant, arguments with spouses. Imagine this noise while you travel, restrained by your seatbelt, unable to escape.”

The senator said. “The FCC commissioners will earn the gratitude of the two million Americans who fly each day by deciding: text messages, yes; conversations, no.”

News release from Rep. Steve Cohen’s office:
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) reportedly considering a rule proposal that could allow for voice calls from cell phones during domestic air travel, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) today drafted a letter to Michael Huerta, Administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), strongly urging the FAA to maintain the ban on cell phone calls in flight.

The letter also expresses concerns about disruptions to passengers’ flight experience as well as for consumer safety.

“I share the concerns of the flying public and many aviation industry professionals that the flying experience would be not only markedly less pleasant, but less safe as well, if the ban on cell phone calls during flight were lifted” said Congressman Cohen.

“Allowing these calls would disrupt the right of consumers to enjoy the quiet comfort of their flight and potentially puts their safety at risk as well. Simply put, the flying experience in the United States would be forever changed for the worse if voice calls are allowed on flights. I hope the FAA considers these important safety and comfort concerns and makes the right decision.”

Yesterday, the Association of Flight Attendants released a statement explaining: “Any situation that is loud, divisive, and possibly disruptive is not only unwelcome but also unsafe.”

Congressman Cohen’s letter is currently being circulated among his colleagues in the House of Representatives and will then be sent to Administrator Huerta.