EDITORIAL: A call for common sense

You would think in today’s information-crazed society people would relish the opportunity to talk on their cell phones while they are aboard a plane in flight.

You would be wrong. According to a recent survey conducted by Albany International Airport, 83 percent of leisure travelers and 60 percent of business travelers said they oppose the idea of allowing people to talk on cell phones once planes are more than 10,000 feet in the air.

We don’t see the point of it, either. There is enough noise to deal with on planes (crying babies, over-zealous chatters) without adding fancy ring tones and people shouting at their long-distance conversation partner. No one expects sitting on a plane to be as quiet as sitting in a library or visiting a cemetery, but do we really need to hear people blaring into their phones, “Guess where I’m calling from?” or describing, in painstaking detail, their latest doctor’s visit.

And other area travelers are of the same mind.

“I don’t want to hear other people’s personal conversations on a cell phone invading my air space,” said Mary Rozak, director of communications for the Albany County Executive’s office.

It’s not just Albany passengers who feel that way. Nationally, the survey numbers show the majority of people feel cell phones should remain silenced on planes.

It’s not that cell phones endanger the pilot’s ability to steer the plane. It’s the idea of adding loud chatter in a small, cramped space that has people wanting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to maintain the long-standing policy that cell phones remain quiet once the plane reaches the runway.

Allowing passengers to text from the plane elicits a different response from passengers. While 55 percent of leisure travelers polled at Albany International Airport said they opposed texting, 64 percent of business travelers said they wanted the ability to send messages to family and colleagues while in the air. Chalk up the dichotomy to the two types of passengers’ priorities. Businesspeople sometimes have to get and receive messages at a moment’s notice, while those who are heading out on vacation usually wait until they reach their destination before communicating with anyone.

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