Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Real Reasons Phones Are Kept Off Planes

The Real Reasons Phones Are Kept Off Planes: Mike Elgan argues that the the real reason that cell phones calls are not allowed is fear of crowd control problems if calls are allowed during flight. Also, the airlines like keeping passengers ignorant about ground conditions. The two public reasons, interference with other systems, could easily be tested, but neither the FAA nor the FCC manage to do such testing.

The source article descends into utter silliness:

If gadgets can't crash planes, then the ban is costing billions of hours per year of lost productivity by business people who want to work in flight.

What about the billions of hours per year of lost peace, and, yes, productivity, for those of us who prefer to read, write, think without being distracted by inane nattering from the next seat? Any time I take a non-silent car on Amtrak, the great majority of the conversations I am forced to overhear are in my estimation a net loss for productivity. The author mentions but dismisses the issue:

The airlines fear "crowd control" problems if cell phones are allowed in flights. They believe cell phone calls might promote rude behavior and conflict between passengers, which flight attendants would have to deal with. [...] One way to deal with callers bothering noncallers would be to designate sections of each flight where calling is allowed -- like a "smoking section." But the ban is easier.

Yeah, right. Just like the old smoking section.

With the current problems with air travel — obnoxious security, poor service, thirst if you forget to bring water from past security, disgusting food, painfully cramped seats — loss of wireless connectivity feels like a rare benefit, an opportunity to avoid constant nattering and use one's mind.

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