Survey shows NYers don’t want cell phone use in the air

A New York-focused airport advocacy group surveyed 256 metropolitan-area residents.

As federal agencies consider loosing the rules for electronic devices in the sky, a survey of New York-area residents showed they do not want fellow passengers gabbing on their cellphones.

More than half of the 256 metropolitan-area residents surveyed by Global Gateway Alliance, a New York-focused airport advocacy group, oppose cellphone calls during fligh, while 27.7% are indifferent and 13.6% in favor of a passenger making a call.

“The people have spoken loud and clear that cellphone calls have no place on flights,” said Joseph Sitt, the real estate developer who founded and chairs the Global Gateway Alliance.

About two-thirds of respondents were opposed to the federal government allowing cellphone calls during flights.

The Federal Communications Commission last year proposed a rule change that would lift the cellphone ban and let airlines decide the issue. Public comments to the FCC closed Feb. 14. Meanwhile, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in December his agency will look at banning airplane phone conversations.

Delta and Jet Blue would keep cellphone calls banned on its flights, while American Airlines said in a statement that “we will certainly keep the wishes of our customers in mind” if the rule change goes through. United and Southwest airlines did not immediately return a request for comment.

While 21% of respondents say they would talk on their cellphone during a flight, at least 70% said they would be courteous and stick to email, music and text messaging.

New York residents and flight attendants who commented to the FCC felt calls would be too disruptive and pose safety risks.

“Passengers,” wrote one Queens woman, “may be involuntarily subject to a known disturbance with no escape and no relief until the flight lands.”

(With Cari Romm)