staff and news service reports
updated 4/7/2005 8:00:55 PM ET 2005-04-08T00:00:55

If the prospect of being stuck on an airplane next to someone chatting away on a cell phone fills you with dread, you're not alone. A new poll by the Association of Flight Attendants and the National Consumer League finds Americans overwhelmingly opposed to the use of cell phones on airplanes.

The practice is currently banned, but the Federal Communications Commission is taking public comment on whether the ban should be lifted.

Sixty-three percent of those surveyed said the ban should say, with 21 percent saying it should be lifted, the poll found. The telephone survey of 702 air passengers had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percent.

Currently, the only way passengers on domestic flights can communicate with the ground is through phones usually built into seatbacks. Such services are costly — about $3.99 a minute — and not very popular.

The ability to use one's own cell phone on board would likely make the practice more common — and that raises worries about passenger rage. Unlike on a train, where "no cell phone zones" are common, it's unclear whether planes would be able to institute similar segregated areas.

Passengers could get annoyed and maybe even become violent because there would be no escape from people who are talking, said Pat Friend, president of the Association of Flight Attendants.

Friend's group opposes the use of cell phones on planes. She said the jury was still out on whether they are safe. She said she also feared they could be used to coordinate an attack.

The Federal Aviation Administration has commissioned its own private study of the issue, with results due in 2006.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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