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AFA Urges FCC To Retain Ban On In-Flight Cell Phone Usuage

Date: May 27, 2005

WASHINGTON - The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA issued a filing with the Federal Communications Commission yesterday encouraging the continuation of the current in-flight cell phone ban. 

In its concluding comments to the FCC, AFA-CWA stated that the Commission "should maintain its existing ban on the airborne use of cellular telephones, sending a strong, consistent signal to the public that such use threatens airline passenger safety and privacy. In addition, lifting the ban could make it easier for terrorists to coordinate an airborne attack. Finally, the public as well as airline crews overwhelmingly support the current ban on cell phone use on airplanes to protect privacy, maintain civility, and ensure aviation safety and security."

AFA-CWA further cited numerous serious "human factors" incidents associated with cell phone use on planes.  The union's filing quoted one flight attendant as saying, "I have seen…fist fights because one passenger puts his seat back and the passenger behind him wants to read his newspaper.  Can you imagine what would happen when 300 people are gabbing away [on cell phones]?" 

Besides potential passenger conflicts, flight attendants also are concerned that in sudden emergencies, cell phone use would drown out announcements and distract from life-saving instructions from the crew.

The union noted that a scientific poll conducted for AFA-CWA and the National Consumers League found that 63 percent of participants want to keep the ban and 84 percent think the FCC should not proceed with rulemaking while the FAA continues to study the issues related to interference with equipment and operations.

The FCC is currently holding a public comment period on this issue that will remain open until June 27, 2005.  Comments may be filed online at www.fcc.gov.

75 Years of Safety & Service: 60 Years of Unity
This year marks the 75th anniversary of the flight attendant profession and the 60th anniversary of the Association of Flight Attendants.  More than 46,000 flight attendants, join together to form AFA-CWA, the world's largest flight attendant union. AFA is part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afanet.org.

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