And you thought crying babies were annoying on planes?

Cellphones In PlanesThe FCC will decide whether to lift the ban on December 12. (Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Cellphones In Planes

The FCC will decide whether to lift the 22 year old ban on December 12. (Credit: AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

Imagine yourself finally sitting on the aircraft after hours of getting to the airport, check-in, security, and boarding. Finally, it’s time to relax and rest a bit in order to recharge your batteries before getting to your destination. Within minutes of take-off, hundreds of loud annoying conversations begin all around you in the cramped airplane. Tell me it isn’t so. On December 12, the FCC will decide whether to lift the 22 year old ban on the use of mobile devices on airplanes. Will this also mean the pilot can text and fly? In that case I think I’d opt for a train.
Cellphone use was banned on planes in the past as ground stations would get jammed. However, innovation has made cellphone use safe on airplanes (or so they believe in 99% of the cases, and I wouldn’t want to be in the 1%). The FCC will hold a session for public comment if the proposal moves forward. Here’s my comment, which 61% of the polls (conducted Novevmber 23 to November 24 by HuffPost) indicate agree with me: No thanks! While I think the use of email and Internet service should be allowed inflight, talking on the phone is a whole separate issue. Last month the FAA allowed tablets to be used on the plane for the Internet and email. This is completely justified, and is not disruptive to fellow passengers.
The Association of Flight Attendants is in agreement to keep the ban, stating “people want a peaceful, calm cabin.” This is especially so for longer flights, because people want to get some sleep. Talking on the phone would only disturb this. However, Michael Planey, cofounder of a practice focused on technology for the travel industry, stated the following: “They’re not shouting on the phone. They’re not having hour-long business discussions. What they’re doing is making last-minute arrangements. The vast majority of these calls are under four minutes in duration.” The reason he mentions the short length is because airlines charge up to $5.00 a minute for a phone call. However, Planey’s statements are very generalized. We cannot assume that people are only calling to make last-minute arrangements for their trips. We are also dealing with a plane load of people all making their calls at different times. It is understandable to seek communication on an airplane. After all, we are in the age of information, and we want constant notifications of the world around us. We want to see how our stock fared in the market, we want to see the news feed on Facebook, we want to check our email, and we want to read the news online. However, there are ways to do this without being bothersome on a small cramped airplane. At least everyone won’t only be complaining about the crying babies.
The problem with using cellphones on the plane is not only related to convenience. Is it just me or is anyone else thinking that many of the bombs terrorists use we have been told are detonated by cell phones? If the FCC allows mobile device usage, could it only make it easier for a terrorist attack to occur? Some sense of security has already been risked when the TSA permitted small knives on planes. Who is thinking this through?
In general, loosening the restrictions on airplanes can lead to unintended consequences. Our sanity on long flights to begin with. For the sake of the people, and security, talking on cellphones (including pilots) should not be allowed on airplanes. There are many new communication options made available by the FCC just last month. Anyone wishing to participate in the poll, just log onto The HUFF/POST/YOUGOV poll and send your own message.