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Fliers: Keep the cell phone stowed

Survey at Albany airport shows most air travelers not in favor of in-flight calls

According to a recent survey conducted at the Albany International Airport, a majority of travelers overwhelmingly oppose the use of cell phones while in flight.

A survey of 428 business and leisure travelers conducted Dec. 2-5 indicated that most passengers don’t want cell phone use to be allowed on airplanes. The survey comes as the Federal Communications Commission looks into whether or not to lift the ban on in-flight cell phone usage.

“There is widespread support prohibiting the use of cell phones on airplanes. Travelers don’t want to be bothered by hearing the person next to them talking about business or family issues,” said Doug Myers, the airport’s director of public affairs.

The survey revealed that 83 percent of people traveling for leisure were opposed to the use of cell phones in flight, while only 60 percent of business travelers were opposed.

Even though cell phone use on planes is no longer a safety issue, a majority people said they just don’t want to hear random conversations while traveling.

“Being in a confined space for any period of time — it’s already hard enough to read a book or magazine, listen to music or work on a laptop or iPad without already being disturbed by conversation around you,” said Mary Rozak, director of communications for Albany County Executive Dan McCoy. “I would like the ability to stay connected to email and the Internet without having to pay an additional charge when an airline makes it available.  I don’t want to hear other people’s personal conversations on a cell phone invading my air space.”

The use of cell phones for texting doesn’t seem to be as much of an issue for those surveyed, with 64 percent of business travelers and 35 percent of leisure travelers approving.

“Personally I’d like to see them allow texting,” said President of the Colonie Chamber of Commerce Tom Nolte. “I think you should be allowed to text, but I think the Tower of Babble could be a bit much.”

On the FCC’s official blog Roger Sherman, the acting chief of the wireless telecommunications bureau, said that 22 years ago the original regulations were put in place because of a fear that cell phone would interfere with systems on the ground. Technological advances have ensured that cell phones can be used without interfering with systems on the ground or the aircraft.

Even if the FCC gives the go-ahead, ultimately the decision will be up to the individual airlines on whether to allow in-flight phone calls.

“They’ll have the final say because it’s their aircraft,” said Myers.

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