Poll: Vocal Minority of Frequent Flyers Against Congressional Ban on In-Flight Mobile Calling

By Jeremy Del Nero on 25 February 2014
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Earlier this month, Republicans and Democrats in the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure agreed that in-flight mobile calls on domestic flights should be banned.  A recent poll of frequent travelers revealed that, while many support legislative action in this matter, one-quarter of respondents believe government action is inappropriate.

The pending legislation has led to a debate that is less about in-flight calling and more about what role Congress should play in implementing rules and regulations in people’s lives.  In other words, you may agree that people shouldn’t make calls in-flight, but you may not believe that Congress should be telling us what we can and can’t do in the sky.

Frequent Business Traveler, in partnership with FlyerTalk, conducted a survey to see how frequent travelers felt about congressional intervention.  The survey garnered 889 responses and spurred a discussion on FlyerTalk that received over 2,000 views and 80 replies.

Indeed, while 90% of readers and FlyerTalk members were opposed to in-flight calls (per a November Frequent Business Traveler survey), a smaller number, 75%, said that they think there should be a congressional ban.

The disparity, although relatively small, reflects a vocal minority with the belief that Congress is overstepping its mandate and encroaching on decisions that should be left up to the free marketplace, such as the individual airline.

Esther Dyson, a journalist, Internet entrepreneur, computer industry analyst, and investor, made a case for letting the market decide. An airline “should be free to offer either policy, and consumers can choose which airlines they prefer to fly.”  She said that she would choose quiet planes and would even “pay extra for the privilege.” We can almost hear the collective “ka-ching” that just went off in a dozen airline executive’s heads.

Still, three quarters of poll respondents did indicate that they were in favor of a congressional ban on in-flight calling.  Some are just so opposed to the idea that they don’t really care how the decision is made.

TravelinSperry, the first FlyerTalk member to enter the discussion, said he’s “strongly in favor of a ban!”  Peace and quiet in the air seems to be of extra importance to the poster, who added that, should in-flight mobile calls be eventually permitted, he’d be willing to “pay extra for a quiet zone (yes, including a no baby/kid zone!).”

Other commenters were quick to separate their views on in-flight calling from those on whether Congress should intervene.  “This isn’t something the government should be making any decision on,” said whimike matter-of-factly.  “Give consumers a choice and stop having government further encroach on issues that shouldn’t concern them,” he added.

Click here to continue to Page 2More Comments, Complete Results, and Survey Methodology

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