Speak up for the freedom from cellphones while flying
Fly the Friendly Skies" was a successful advertising campaign for United Airlines from 1965 through 1996, and the carrier is about to revive it.
But the lead for keeping those skies friendly, at least for now, belongs to Delta, Jet Blue and Southwest airlines - all of which have announced that they will not allow the use of cellphones in passenger cabins while planes are aloft.
The decisions were in response to recent findings by federal regulators that the use of cellphones in flight, and of electronic devices such as laptop computers from gate to gate, does not pose a danger to aircraft.
That's just the technological side of the issue, however. In survey after survey, passengers overwhelmingly told airlines and the government that they don't want to be captive to their fellow passengers' cellphone conversations at 35,000 feet.
More than the airlines have listened. Rep. Bud Shuster of Pennsylvania, chairman of the House Transportation Committee, quickly filed a bill to prohibit cellphone use aloft except in emergencies. Several other lawmakers asked the Federal Aviation Administration to bar cellphone use by regulation.
As all of that unfolds, this is a case in which travelers themselves can have rare influence over a carrier's decision. By telling airlines of their preference for freedom from cellphones while captive to a plane cabin, flyers can make the prohibition the industry standard.