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Attention Airlines and Airline Passengers: Muzzle Your Mobile And Keep Your Mouths Shut

Oct 9, 2012

By: Vanessa Horwell, Chief Visibility Director

Dear Airlines and Loud Mobile Phone Users,

On a recent flight home to Miami, I had the unpleasant experience of seeing the mobile phone future unfold in the seat right next to me. Suffice it to say, I didn’t like what I saw one bit, and even less what I heard. A thoroughly annoying git, who, for love nor money, would not put away his phone, despite complaints from his fellow passengers. Instead, he chose to pollute the cabin airwaves with his loud, inane jabber and nonsensical information – information that certainly could have been saved for a more appropriate location. Like his office. Or better still, underwater.

Since the dawn of mobile technology, much has changed. “Brick” phones that looked like, well, bricks, morphed into wallet-sized flip phones. And thanks to RIM’s now almost extinct Blackberry (and later Apple, Android and Windows), our phones have grown “smart.” The mobile web is ubiquitous and whether you’re deep underground in some subways in Tokyo, or standing atop Mount Everest Base Camp at 17,598 feet, chances are you’re never far from a reliable cellular signal.

But one thing has remained unchanged. When you board any aircraft, you are reminded by the flight attendants to “please turn off your cell phones and other electronic devices as we prepare for takeoff.” Minus a few stragglers, the din of human voices soon settles and the thrum of engine turbines powers up. Wrapped in an auditory cocoon that shuts out the world, passengers have passed their inflight boredom by watching movies, playing video games, fiddling with their mostly-dormant phones, reading books, getting buzzed, catching up on emails, dozing off, or maybe doing a little shopping via the inflight store.

But if the Federal Aviation Administration has its way, as it hinted at in August 2012, passengers may soon be able to use their mobile phones to make calls during the flight. Before that fateful day arrives, I wanted to go on record loud and speakerphone clear, and say that I think this is a poor decision.

A very, very, poor decision.

In the name of progress, convenience and peace to all humankind, turning on mobile phone capabilities inflight will undoubtedly turn one of the modern world’s last bastions of relative quiet into a place of chattering, annoying, and like the flights themselves, nonstop conversations. Make no mistake, I’m not a Luddite on the ground. But can’t we all just go on in ignorant bliss believing that mass mobile phone use would crash planes?

Sadly, no.

While a recent article haply pointed out that since 2008, passengers on United Arab Emirates flights have made approximately 625,000 inflight mobile calls with only two official airline complaints, somehow I’m not buying that “official reports” are an honest measure of p’d off passengers. So, please, to my fellow flyers, I beg of you, when the time finally comes when five-hour flights allow five-hour calls, consider this heart-felt plea: muzzle your mobile and keep your mouths shut!

And to the airlines: please, please, please don’t do it.

Signed,

Luddite in the Sky

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