It's official: In-flight cell phone talking is un-American

May 21, 2008 12:36 PM EDT
ATHENS, GREECE -- While Europe and the Middle East move aggressively to allow cell phone conversations on airplanes, the country that invented both the cell phone and the airplane wants no part of it. A new poll found that three-quarters of U.S. consumers are against allowing cell phone talking in-flight.

The poll, commissioned by Yahoo and conducted by Harris Interactive found that, although 74 percent of respondents support a ban on actual cell phone conversations, 60 percent actually approve of allowing cell phones to be used for e-mail, text messaging and instant messaging.

And there were regional differences. Some 83 percent of people in the "West" wanted the cell phone ban, while just 69 percent of Southerners want people banned from talking in airplanes.

Pollsters also grilled consumers on another hypothetical scenario: If cell phone talking was allowed in flight, should there be a cell phone "section" for the talkers? More than two-thirds (69 percent) said yes.

I personally don't support the ban on cell phones in-flight, and have proposed etiquette as an alternative, but I understand why people don't want to be trapped inside the fuselage of a cross-country airplane with an annoying yakker. I don't understand why anyone would oppose the silent use of cell phones, for texting, surfing the web and so on. According to the Yahoo poll, however, 40 percent actually oppose the silent use of cell phones in-flight. Is this rational?

As smart phones get smarter, and become more useful as web surfing and text-based communication tools, I think we should be setting up the airplane shielding and relay equipment -- and the rules -- for allowing this basic use of phones in-flight.