Friday, May 10, 2013

The Lunacy of Today's Commercial Airline Experience

If leaving on cell phones and similar devices caused planes to crash, they would be constantly dropping from the sky. That is the conclusion that can be drawn from a Consumer Electronics Assn. survey:

Of course, news reports state the FAA is (finally!) reviewing the rule about turning off devices years after it has been obvious to all concerned the rule serves no purpose except to annoy people.

Earlier this week, I was on a United Airlines flight from Chicago to Washington-Dulles that was -- you guessed it -- delayed an hour due to some mechanical problem. The passenger door was wide open and there were two mechanics on the plane. The captain announced that there was an issue with the plane and that we were not going anywhere. Yet, two flight attendants came up to me after the captain's announcement  and told me I had to turn off my laptop "because we made an announcement [20 min. before] that laptops would have to be turned off when the door is closed." I pointed out all of the above and that the door was wide open. Finally, the customer service director came over and said what I was doing was "fine" and the other two were "just enforcing the letter of the law."

More and more these days, I find myself sympathizing with Alec Baldwin:

With United's (and other airlines') own pilots using iPads in the cockpit, it is long past time to get rid of this silly and annoying rule.


  1. One of the reasons they don't want cell phones on during the flight is because the cell companies don't want the signals bouncing to too many cell towers below. On the ground you might hit two or three towers. From 30,000 feet you might hit a dozen or more.

  2. @ShowMe: That was true in the analog era. My understanding (readers, please correct me) is that this is no longer a problem in the digital area.

    Regardless, that has nothing to do with, and does not justify, United Airlines' flight attendants acting like jerks.


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