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Flight attendants are not inherently anti-romantic or anti-social, they’re just brainwashed when it comes to using cell phones in the air.
“Please switch off all mobile phones as they can interfere with the aircraft’s rafts navigation system,” is the flight attendant’s mantra.
But there is no verifiable reason why one shouldn’t use a cell phone on a plane.
We’re told it may interfere with mobile networks on the ground. But that makes no sense.
But if cell phones were so dangerous to the plane’s navigation system, why allow them on board in the first place?
Many phones are left on by mistake (including mine), and some people make furtive phone calls in the air.
There is no good reason why cell phones should be turned off in flight. At least none anyone can prove.
One International Air Transport Association (IATA) study did report 75 incidents of “possible electronic interference believed linked to mobil phones and other electronic devices.”
That was between 2003 and 2009. Imagine the total number of flights flown in those 6 years! Seventy-five “possible electronic interferences” is a statistical nonentity.
Birds and weather are greater threats.
Arianna Huffington, the out-spoken founder of the Huffington Post, blatantly used her Blackberry on a Dulles to LaGuardia flight last year. According to an irate passenger, she chatted and texted the entire time, openly.
The Washington Post’s Reliable Source reported that the “blog empress” was confronted by the passenger, and both were pulled aside and questioned when the plane landed.
No one was charged.
The New York Post identified the passenger as Ellis Belodoff (53) who scolded Huffington and heckled her by asking, “Hey, Lady, don’t you speak English?” apparently referring, of all things, to her accent.
Huffington, of course, is Greek-born, speaks English exceptionally well and was not the least bit amused. She reportedly thought the passenger was upset because he didn’t like the snacks.
It’s true that recent studies have suggested passengers themselves do not want fellow passengers “yaking” on their phones. But that’s a different story.
An MSNBC report noted that airlines in Europe, Asia and the Middle East wire planes for connectivity that allow passengers to use their own phones to receive and make calls.
But, U.S federal regulations still do not allow the use of in-flight mobile calls, and cell phones must be turned off.
Further, says, MSNBC, the government has directed broadband service providers like Aircell/gogo and Row 44 to “block voice calls and disable VoIp functions.”
Oman Air, Egypt Air, Libyan Airlines, Qatar Airways and Royal Jordanian offer in-flight voice calls. Malaysia Airlines and others are conducting trials before committing to a formal rollout of a mobile phone service. Emirates Airlines says it logs between 15,000 and 20,000 calls per month from Emirates flights in 2010. A VP says they had one complaint.
Give the people what they want.
In 2009 the Bureau of Transportation statistics asked 1000 households that if it could be proven that there was no safety hazard in using cell phones, would they approve of cell phone use. Forty-eight percent said “definitely,” or “probably.”
If, as it seems likely, more and more foreign and international carriers are adding more and more connectivity, then only those flying US carriers will be out of reach and increasingly out of touch.