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back to article US Congress to vote on in-flight mobile ban

US lawmakers could ground moves to permit in-flight mobile phone calls. New laws to permanently silence mid-air yammering will go forward to a vote in the House of Representatives. The Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace Act (HANG UP Act) was approved by the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday. The …

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Anonymous Coward

could they

could they first ban children, fat people, toddlers and babies from planes, not necessarily in that order. Babies tending to be louder, more screatchy and generally alot more irritating then anything else I think they should be the first to be banned, accept maybe on rare baby friendly planes full of the horrific monsters.

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shurley

it is not for law makers to decide to ban somthing just cos "it could be anoying" if an airline wants to try it and they lose pasengers that is up to them it could be equlay said that NOT being able to use your mobile on a plane is anoying and that should be baned

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Banning babies

They should also ban anyone who has been a baby in the past, in order to punish them for past crimes.

Oh.

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Flame

Can we have a new award...

for most horribly shoe-horned acronym?

And while they're at it, perhaps the US Congress could vote on a bill outlawing bills with titles that are acronyms. Haven't the septics murdered our language enough?!

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Black Helicopters

HANG UP Act???

Today is the first of August not the first of April right?

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Pirate

score one for the yanks

Last week i sat in a train and was forced to listen (she was 2 seats down and forgot about the modern wonder of telephones ie that you do not need to shout like you need to be heard 20 miles away) to a discussion that was private (job interview)

That was a 30 minutes journey

The idea of sitting in a tube for hours with nowhere to go sandwiched between mister corporate and miss you will never quess where i am is horrible. Air rage should be legal if it is limited to entering mobile phones in to the offenders body by any entrance possible

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Baby friendly planes?

Ah, that'll be a fleet of C-47 Dakotas with expired certificates of airworthiness, no navigation or communication gear, faulty fuel gauges and one missing engine apiece then?

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Pirate

Never mind phones

Ban babies please please for the love of <insert name of favorite invisible friend here> ban babies, oh and drunks as well - I was on a flight from the middle east and some brat screamed the whole flight and its stupid cow of a mother just kept grinning at people as if to say 'isnt it wonderful' - no it fuckin isnt wonderful!!

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Sorry, America...

...but you are no longer allowed to have a government until you can manage to make laws without coming up with silly acronyms.

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silly season?

Traditionally the summer season is when the weirder ideas surface, but I wonder if the current US and UK governments have gone so far into incompetence with their normal policies that we're actually seeing some sort of cosmic wraparound phenomenon, where the wackier politicians have looped around into common sense again? Well done that congressman...

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Black Helicopters

democracy vs bureaucrats

"A permanent ban would set the US against UK and European regulations, which have recently been relaxed in favour of in-flight calling."

Once again Europe thumbs its nose at democracy in favor of corrupt bureaucrats in the pockets of greedy businesses making decisions regardless of the public's wishes.

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babies vs. phones vs. stupid legislation

I agree with michael completely - this is not an issue for legislation - it's an issue for the free markets to handle.

I am one of the most loyal airline/hotel customers imagineable, but that'll change PDQ if my preferred carrier allows in-flight mobile use.

On the whole babies vs. mobiles discussion: remember that babies cannot be held liable for being annoying. I also shudder with fear when I see (or worse - hear) large numbers of small children at the gate, but these new-fangled noise-cancelling headphones are fabulous.

(Disclaimer: I am a parent of small children)

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Flying phone boxes

In London, we now have these huge red phone boxes on wheels that make regular trips across town in which you can make your phone calls and get somewhere whilst you are talking. Flying phone boxes will be the Next Big Thing™, believe me.

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Joke

Airplane noise?

I'm not in favour of people talking on phones on planes. That would drive me insane.

But these people who want to ban "noise" on planes really need to focus on getting rid of those jet engine things.

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@ban babies

right, first, I take your point because before I became a parent I used to sit in airport lounges praying none of the little brats were sitting anywhere near me.

but, for all you bloody idiots, do you seriously expect that once someone has kids they should no longer be allowed to travel? How about people with family overseas, or people like us when we visited my wife's best friend in san francisco this spring (who is for ever making the effort to come and see us)? Believe me, taking a long-haul flight with a 1 year old and a 2 year old is not an enjoyable experience, especially when the airline insists on putting your pushchair in the hold (thanks BA) and you have to carry them, and all the many bags they require, all the way from the gate through immigration to baggage reclaim!

please, if you don't have kids, be tolerant of those who do. First, there's a pretty good chance it might be you one day. Second, even if you never have kids, the efforts of those of us who do will mean there are still doctors, nurses, engineers, IT geeks and (unfortunately) estate agents when you get old!

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Happy

Oh yes they do

Michael wrote on Friday 1st August 2008 11:04 GMT

"it is not for law makers to decide to ban something just cos "it could be annoying" if an ..................."

Sorry Michael here in the Peoples Republic of New South Wales that is EXACTLY what the lawmakers did. A law was passed making it an offence to ANNOY a pilgrim attending the recent Catholic Youth Day celebrations in Sydney (fine approx 2300 UK Pounds). Fortunately Australia still has a semblance of legal decency and the Federal High Court ruled the word "Annoy" too broad a legal term. But it was tried and nearly got through.

Personally I think mobiles should be banned until in the terminal building – mainly because I don’t have a job important enough for me to have to check my messages and emails the moment the engines are turned off. My importance level allows me to exit the aircraft in a orderly manner not violently pressing buttons.

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@James Geldart

"First, there's a pretty good chance it might be you one day."

Are you forgetting something? This is an IT site - ergo full of assorted geeks, dweebs, nerds etc (myself included in all 3 categories) - thus the chances of us procreating are slim...

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Stop

Hold On one cotton picking minute

Although I don't want mobiles on planes, what the F**King right (other self importance) do the yanks have overiding EU law?

If a euro carrier allows it, surely, US law only comes into effect in US airspace. Or is it if it is flying to the US us law applies, the surely EU law applies if flying to the EU?

But then again, everyone know that US policy is worldwide.....just look at the Chinese, they are using a US plocy to intercept mobile calls and steal files from your laptop....

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Flame

Sounds like a good idea

on another matter, has anyone considered the prospect that the oil price has been pushed up as a result of the demand for more aviation fuel (need for increased thrust etc) to get these fat yanks off the ground?

I def don't think yakking on a mobile on a flight is a good idea.

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mobile phones and indoor voice

First the babies. Fly one time with your ears blocked, and it is like someone sticking an icepick into your skull. You will scream at the same time the babies do when the pressure changes for takeoff and landing, or if the pilot gently goes up as the fuel is used. Your sympathy with the ordeal babies have to endure will never die. Until their little ears can equalize they are in excruciating pain.

Second onto mobiles. I do think it deserves a law. Airlines have proven that they have no problem with your discomfort by cramming us into seats that don't qualify for enough space for a pig under EU regulations. You want to watch passengers freak out and lose their sh!t like the guy in Road Warrior Wez (Humungus' flunky)? Force them to sit next to an armrest stealing, elbowing, loud talking, selfish ass who calls the whole flight because he forgot his book or decides that flight time is call everyone for updates.

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Anonymous Coward

@James Geldart

Honestly speaking I think it should be illegal to take a baby on a plane except in the most extreme of circumstances, it's a weird enough experiance for someone who has some understanding of whats going on let alone a baby.

But anyway, I was half joking when I posted way up there, earphones, music, portable media, and all sorts of things are perfectly apt at blocking out the masses, and it works just as well for blocking out screaming children as it does people on the phone.

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Anonymous Coward

@ Daniel Wilkie: Darwin

That's OK then, the problem will sort itself out in a generation or so. Darwin at work, so to speak.

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There is a tremendous safety aspect being overlooked

To the potential cell phone users - now they have no chance of getting pummeled, in-flight, by me because they can't stfu.

@Stu: Ever thought of switching to decaf there, buddy? This would, indeed, apply only to US air space. Even US carriers, once outside US air space, could allow mobile usage (like how it was with smoking on trans-Pacific flights).

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Paris Hilton

Free speech (except for babies)

I'd love to see a first amendment challenge to this. It's free speech even if it's in a metal tube 6 miles above the earth's surface! Hopefully they'll word it sufficiently badly that it'll ban communications between pilots and air traffic controllers, and cabin announcements too. Now that would be peaceful flying.

"remember that babies cannot be held liable for being annoying"

Yes they can. If people could try pigs in the middle ages surely we can prosecute babies now. I suppose you think babies should be allowed in bars, airplane cockpits, race track pit lanes, and the International Space Station too.

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Pirate

Erm, wait a second

In business and first class there have been phones at the seats for ages. Not sure about cattle class since I refuse to travel in cattle, but I suppose they at least have collective phones. Now, in all the flying I've done, I've seen people use these in seat phones only occasionally. The reason? They cost a damned fortune. A pico-node on an aircraft will be absolutely no different. It will still couple over expensive satellite bandwidth in order to connect with terra-firma. If you honestly believe that people are going to spend the whole flight chattering with mates, I suspect you will be surprised. However, just think of the utility of being able to phone the person meeting you at the airport to say you've been delayed. I've never understood the ridiculous anger at mobile phone use anyway, it's really no different to people conversing normally. Just stick your headset on and listen to the movie and you won't really hear anything.

If you are really concerned about it, the airlines could bring in a rule saying that you have to have mobile phone conversations in the galley areas. Personally, it will make no difference to me whatsoever. Flying is offensive enough anyway, so any additional annoyance is only marginal.

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Dead Vulture

Just to add fuel to the fire....

Thought I might add that If you've been lucky enough to travel on the 'big red phone boxes on wheels' in London, then you may have been priviledged to experience certain passengers using their phones as a means of portable jukebox.

Imagine that on a plane full of tired commuters.

"Man found beaten to death with own mobile. 200 suspects are believed to be in police custody"

Personally, whatever happens you really do need to invest in noise-cancelling headphones. They really are worth the money.

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Boffin

@Stu Reeves

Are you really as dumb as you sound? This is no different than the smoking ban on aircraft, which started in the US. So it works like this. All planes in US airspace are subject to the ban. In addition, Congress also has the power to require US air carriers to obey the ban World Wide.

By the way, why do EU nations like Spain & the Netherlands think their law trumps all law everywhere? e.g. http://tinyurl.com/5g262r

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Compromise...

...allow airlines to allow phone use, but they have to provide noise-cancelling headphones for everyone for free.

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Re: Airplane noise?

"But these people who want to ban "noise" on planes really need to focus on getting rid of those jet engine things."

Unfortunately most external noise on a plane cruising at altitude comes from the outside air hitting the fuselage. So obviously planes just aren't flying high enough.

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@ Anonymous Coward

'By the way, why do EU nations like Spain & the Netherlands think their law trumps all law everywhere? e.g. http://tinyurl.com/5g262r'

It's pretty much the same in all legislatures which have grown up regarding themselves as the supreme arbiters of lawmaking. In this country there is absolutely nothing to prevent the House of Commons passing an Act of Parliament that declares the speaking of French to be a crime no matter where it is spoken. At a stroke, the entire nation of France would be violation of the law, but it could never be enforced.

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Conflicted

This is one of those rare occasions where I agree with the US lawmakers. Aircraft are a nice, phone-free zone and long may it continue.

However, taking an objective look at things, I think that if they try to enforce a ban on transatlantic flights, the EU ought to put in place a law that requires the facility to be available on flights into the EU.

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Huzzah!

Forget foreign policy!

Forget the fights about privacy and civil liberties!

Forget the budget deficit, the failing economy, health care and education reform.

The might of US Congress is focused on what's truly important: Criminalising things that are slightly annoying!

And why stop there?

With enough support, your government will COMPLETELY ERADICATE housewives who take eleven items through the "ten items or less" lane, by 2012!

The TURN-DOWN Act will introduce long jail sentences for people cranking their car stereos so loud that you can hear them two lanes over!

And finally, it'll be Camp X-Ray for ANYONE caught using that Crazy Frog ringtone!

All hail the new era - It's Congress' pledge to you!

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@James R Curry

"And finally, it'll be Camp X-Ray for ANYONE caught using that Crazy Frog ringtone!"

Actually, I support that bit...

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Stop

@James Geldart

Wow, James. So, we should allow you to be inconsiderate towards us just in case your offspring one day might help us. Great argument there.

I don't have a problem flying long haul on an aeroplane with toddlers and such, I've slept through it before and I'm sure I'll do it again.

However your argument that you are entitled to annoy other people doesn't make any sense. You aren't entitled to.

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Pirate

@ James Geldart

Your forgetting something dipshit, no one asked you to breed - in fact, I suspect your the kind of person that we should make sure doesnt breed - you want brats, fine have them but keep the little fuckers to yourselves - why do arseholes like you think you have some kind of right to inflict them on the rest of us and dont give me that shit about 'they are the future'.

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Quiet carriages

Trains have carriages set aside where you're not allowed to use phones or do other noisy things like having children. Why can't airlines just do the same?

However, I fully support the summary detention, and preferably execution, of anyone using Crazy Frog as a ringtone.

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Coat

@ Bill Smith

Shouldn't that be typed with the "CAPS LOCK" on?

I mean, you were *SO* close to FoTW, and all -- to miss out on the win because of a little mistake like using lower-case letters just seems so sad.

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Black Helicopters

@Stu Reeves

I think it would work like the smoking ban. Allow cell phones all you want on flights within or between countries in Europe, Asia, Africa, etc., but any flight that wants *permission to land* in the USA has to abide by US regulations.

Maybe if you came by black helicopter...

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@multipharious

"Until their little ears can equalize they are in excruciating pain"

What? I've flown enough times in cattle class to have been subjected to a few crying babies - none of them gave the impression of being in excruciating pain. Also, the number of times I've sat across from a perfectly quiet baby sleeping through a whole flight would suggest that a lot of parents out there must have easy access to ice-pick-in-skull strength pain-killers.

As for mobile phones - they will cost a fortune to operate, so the average moron is not going to use them anymore than they use the in-flight phones that have been in planes for years. And this HANG UP law proposes that text messaging be allowed? I remember sitting on a train next to a teenager who received and responded to about fifteen SMS messages to carry out a conversation which presumably would have taken two minutes with a voice call. The fifteen bee-beep tones were much more annoying in my view.

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Coat

@or do other noisy things like having children

Yes, the screaming and swearing, can be quite distracting.

I had no idea my daughter knew so many swear words, until she went into labour :)

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Shhssssss

Its getting noisy in here. Someone turn down the interwebnet!

Coat+Door = Gone.

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Flame

Babies on flights

I think it should be compulsory for babies to be on flights and when none available then there should be the screaming played over the loudspeakers

that way - less people will fly, so flights and less CO2, so we can carry on driving our cars :) and no need for expansions of airports - so no more [censored] plane noise

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@Bill Smith

Riiight, we should flame someone for having kids and still wanting to go on a holiday. Fuck off yourself, we can do without opinionated arseholes on planes too.

I'll take screaming kids over belligerent pricks any day. Funny thing is I've never found kids are the ones that ruin my holidays, probably because I have an ounce of tolerance and a set of headphones. For some reasons it's always the intolerant, loud mouthed gits that think they have exclusive rights to a seat on a plane or a spot on the beach that manage to do that.

Don't have kids myself, but I remain forever in the debt of my parents who thought it was a great idea to take myself and my sibling brats on many holidays to many countries. Gave me an appreciation for other cultures, as well as seeing places that I'll probably never be able to afford to visit as an adult.

Probably one of the reasons I don't fear everyone outside of my home country's borders.

So keep taking your kids on planes, and who knows? One day we might have a nation that doesn't feel the need to ban bottles of water and sandwiches, because they're not scared of everyone who speaks a different language.

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Proper Role of Government

It simply isn't the proper role of government to dictate whether an annoyance is legal or not, unless it's a public health issue. And as irritating as talking on a cell phone in public may be, it isn't the role of government to put a stop to it.

If the airlines didn't compose a cartel, and differentiated themselves in different ways, you could choose to fly the Quiet Airline, or the Smoke-Filled Airline, or the Fat-Free Airline.

But alas.

The proper role of government would be to break up the cartel, and to prosecute the airlines for fraud when they overbook, or change a schedule out from under you--and prosecute them for terrorism if they "lose" your luggage (with all that baggage screening, the TSA would be hypocritical to consider it anything else).

Pant. Pant. Pant.

Okay, I'm feeling better now.

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Paris Hilton

@ @ban babies

No, you're the bloody idiot for taking a feeking 1 year on a plane. Most adults can barely stomach the grinding crap that is modern air travel. How the hell does a 1 year old, who can barely process their homelife, process all the goings on in an airport and being stuck on a plane?

And if the bloody thing starts screaming, don't just sit there like the apparent brainless moron that you obviously are, shut the feeking thing up. Know how to do that? Feed it idiot. Make it go to sleep. Gag it. Throw it out the window. I don't feeking care, just shut the bloody thing up. You're the moron who brought it on, not me.

And no, I don't have kids (be grateful - for the kid anyway), and yes, I have been stuck on an 8 hour flight with a screaming brat.

The kid I don't blame, and I never do as it's *NOT* their fault, but I was ready to murder the moronic parent who was stupid enough to bring their bundle of joy with them.

Please, stay at home or leave them there, or better still travel with them when they are old enough to amuse themselves. Please, for the love of God and all that is Holy.......

Paris because even she has more brains than some of these parent's....

Dave M.

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Wow, sensitive subject here...

We all know that flying sucks. Unless you have a private plane and possibly some topless 20-something stewardesses...

Regardless of whether phones / children / snoring old women are allowed on the flight, it's going to suck. And you find that plenty of terrible people have enough money for first class. Last time I flew business I was coming off of ~50 hours straight awake and the guy next to me kept waking me up to ask for help with his sudoku. Idiots are everywhere, and in an airplane you just can't get away.

So no matter what people allow on flights, you need 3 things: Headphones that block, if not cancel noise; Music player with good battery life and exceptional volume; Dense reading material - extremely technical research reports, 18th century philosophy, multivariable calc textbooks, and Neal Stephenson novels have all served me well in the past.

The only drawback is that I can't hear the stewardess offer me a tiny bag of peanuts and a ginger ale... But no amount of phone conversation, screaming newborn, or catastrophic mechanical failure can disturb me.

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Happy

Don't blame me..

Don't blame me, I voted libertarian!

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Don't blame me..

I votes for kodos

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Stop

Noisy babies

While I agree that parents should try to keep their children quiet, I also agree that this is not always possible.

If the parents are trying their best to calm down the child, then whoever complains is stupid. The parents probably want the child to be quiet more than anybody else, and yes, they are entitled to use a plane even with a noisy baby. If you don't think so, I'll complain you are a waste of oxygen, and should not be entitled to pollute the inside of the plane with the nasty CO2 you're emitting. And also, you stink, and you're ugly. Please take the boat, or put a paper bag on your face.

Anyway, the point of talking about noisy babies was that phones are by far not the most annoying thing in a plane. What's the US congress doing making laws about the amount of noise you can make in a plane?? I can't wait for Obama and McCain to give their opinion on this oh-so-important issue.

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Big brother

I guess that means the public won't be able to tell family or the press when they are held hostage by the airlines for hours on end before take off or when they are being held hostage by terrorists. There should be a time limit and a limit to the number of calls but people should not be forced to pay the prices airlines charge to place calls.

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