Quinnipiac Poll: Airplane Passengers Should 'Hang Up, Shut Up'

Wednesday, 11 Dec 2013 07:31 PM

By Sandy Fitzgerald

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Americans just want their fellow airplane passengers to shut up and stay off their cellphones while they're in the sky, says a Quinnipiac University poll.

"Buckle up, hang up, and shut up on airplanes, chatter-weary American voters say," Tim Malloy, assistant director of Quinnipiac's Polling Institute, said of the poll of 2,692 registered voters, which was released Wednesday.

The poll showed that 59 percent of Americans oppose the use of cellphones on planes, and 30 percent do not object. Support for quiet skies was strong among all age groups polled, even voters ages 18-29, who said they opposed phones on planes by a 52 percent to 39 percent margin.

The poll is out just as the Federal Communications Commission, which has proposed lifting the ban, is launching a public-comment period on the new rule on Thursday.

Former FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell, who is now a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute, said in a column for Politico Magazine on Wednesday that he, like many other people, likes his "quiet and unconnected time on airplanes," and consumers who long for silence will "stampede to the quiet alternative."

However, aside from the noise nuisance factor, there is no scientific reason that mobile devices should not be allowed on flights, McDowell said.

"The FCC is merely taking a step toward doing something it should have done years ago: modernize its rules to reflect the current realities of science and technology," said McDowell.

He noted that back in 1991, while cellphones and other such devices were in their infancy, the FCC and Federal Aviation Administration were concerned the devices could interfere with aircraft equipment.

"Since then, both government and airline engineers have become confident that most low-powered consumer electronics do not harmfully interfere with planes' systems and pose no safety threat," said McDowell.

He noted that that there are always people who keep their phones on, and planes aren't spinning out of control as a result. But noise concerns are another issue that McDowell calls "misplaced."

"Good old-fashioned economics may resolve the situation, as usual," said McDowell. "I have a sneaking suspicion that if consumers rebel and demand relative silence on flights, airlines will find a way to accommodate them."

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