In-flight cellphone ban

What’s the most obnoxious — or at least, strange — cellphone conversation you ever had to endure?

The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee has had enough of it, approving a bill that would make the current Federal Aviation Administration and Federal Communication Commission ban on cellphone use during flight permanent.

Some of the comments during the hearing last week were at least as entertaining as the guy who sat behind me on a flight to Boston last year who jumped on the cellphone immediately after landing to tell whoever answered to “feed the fish.”

One member claimed there’s a “security issue” (the new phrase for “I’m afraid”), relaying an anecdote about a man who took pictures with his cellphone of “sensitive parts” of the airplane. What “sensitive parts” of an airplane can you see from inside an airplane? The overhead bin? The engine? The wing? Are these national secrets?

Concerns that might have seemed silly a few years ago now seem downright valid. Some lawmakers “worry that domestic airlines might try to get the cellphone ban lifted so they can charge passengers extra to sit in no-phone sections,” reported USA Today.

Of course, the airlines could test this now with a “no crying baby” section.

  • http://www.minnpost.com/davidbrauer/2008/03/14/1171/dolan_media_buys_politics_in_minnesota David Brauer

    Welcome back, Bob.

    Re: Security. Do you buy the claims I’ve read elsewhere that the “no passenger two-way electronics while in flight” rule really has nothing to do with avionics effectiveness?

  • bsimon

    David-

    One compelling argument I’ve seen made is that if electronic devices were really a safety risk, they’d have already brought a plane down – because people often forget to turn them off.

  • Bob Collins

    David: There doesn’t seem to be any significant evidence that electronics cause a problem. If there were, why would you be able to use them above 10,000 feet?

    The concern seems to be the “fly by wire” generation of planes. These rules came about when they debuted. In the old days there were cables and pullies. Not so much anymore.

    I remember a couple of years ago in a blizzard, we were stuck on the ground, trying to get to a gage 100 feet away. We sat for an hour. During that time, someone took a laptop out and started doing some work. The flight attendant came dashing up the aisle to tell him he must turn it off because it’s against the law to use electronic equipment beofre they get to the gate.

    Fortunately, we were all spared the unknown fate by her quick action.

  • MomKat

    At the end of a flight, at the point where everyone is standing in the aisle waiting to leave, a guy right behind me had a very loud and energetic conversation with a compatriot about making sure a customer got the left-handed hockey stick he’d ordered. Do you think the caller’s sense of customer service was that inflamed, or was it his ego, placing that urgent call at that moment?

  • Bob Collins

    We have a tradition in my house. When one of us leaves for a trip, they always call AFTER they get off the plane and are strutting toward baggage.

    The conversation is always the same:

    “Hello?”

    “Hi, this is me, looking important.”

  • MOM

    @ Mom Kat

    my eleven year old son plays hockey and he is left handed that call might have been for him.

    he is THAT GOOD you know

  • MomKat

    Thanks, Bob, that confirms my suspicions about all those important calls. And we lefthanders are always THAT GOOD, Mom!