Business

Opponents of allowing cellphone calls on planes gain powerful ally

If you’re against letting airline passengers talk on cellphones, you’ve gained a powerful ally.

The Global Business Travel Assn., a trade group for the world’s business travelers, submitted its opposition last week to a plan by the Federal Communications Commission to lift a ban on voice calls on planes.

The group, which represents about 6,000 travel managers, called onboard calls “detrimental to business travelers.” The association even quoted folk singer Pete Seeger, who borrowed heavily from the book of Ecclesiastes when he wrote “there is a time to keep silence and a time to speak.”

Although the U.S. Department of Transportation has already received hundreds of comments in opposition to cellphone calls, business travelers carry extra influence.

In 2012, business travel was responsible for $491 billion in spending, or 3% of U.S. gross domestic product, according to a new study by the travel association.

The business travel group released its report on the effect of business travel on the same day that the federal government closed its 30-day period for accepting comments on the cellphone ban.

The Department of Transportation collected 1,752 comments. Based on a survey of the comments, the business travel group agrees with a majority of air travelers who hate the idea of turning an airplane cabin into a telephone booth.

“No please, no,” an anonymous traveler said in a comment to the agency. “Adding voice calls to the ever shrinking confines of a commercial airline would be like sending passengers to hell with gasoline underpants.”

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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