Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander has hit on something that both Republicans and Democrats should embrace. For several years, he has been pushing to officially ban cell phone calls on commercial airplanes. And the effort appears to be gaining momentum. Local 24 political analyst and commentator Otis Sanford shares his point of view.
The Senate Appropriations Committee last week approved a bill sponsored by Alexander and Democratic senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts. It directs the Transportation Department to finalize regulations banning phone calls in flight.
The bill was originally called the Commercial Flight Courtesy Act and is attached to an appropriations bill that also provides funding for road, bridge and housing projects in Tennessee and elsewhere.
Alexander has long believed that cellphone chats in the close confines of an airplane are not just distracting, they are a nuisance. Preventing such calls, he says, is just common sense. And I agree. It’s already bad enough to have to listen to private calls in restaurants and while waiting in the cashier line at stores. But no one wants to hear these conversations in the relative quiet of a commercial flight.
Alexander’s bill obviously would not apply to text messages. And of course, emergency phone calls should be exempted.
But just because new technology allows for calls in flight does not mean they should be permitted. Cell phones dominate nearly every facet of our lives. They are a marvelous invention. But Alexander is right. Casual calls on a plane should be grounded.