Remember in the late ‘80’s and early ‘90’s when banning smoking on flights became the hot topic with airlines. Once this was enforced and you heard the ‘ding’ of the no-smoking sign, you were free to enjoy the rest of your smoke free flight. Which meant people either read a book, a magazine, watched the in-flight movie, used their earphones for music, or simply took a nap.
Well that is about to change this year. Cell phones and the Internet are officially being used on international flights in several countries and looking to be approved here in the U.S. Soon you will be subject to possible awkward situations like sitting next to a guy who likes to frequent pornographic web sites on the internet, or hear someone’s scandalous cell phone conversation about their wild coke-induced weekend in Vegas.
You may think these are extreme situations that I present, but remember, recently two 18 year-old girls were booted off of a Southwest Airlines flight claiming it was because of their “looks”. It was in fact because they were using profanity with other passengers and raising all sorts of hell because they were passed up during the beverage disbursement. Now picture those two with cell phones. You can only imagine the loud, off color, dimwitted, inconsiderate cell phone conversations these two would be having during that Tampa to L.A flight, which is roughly over 4 hours. Not so appealing now is it?
But the question we should be asking is, why? Why is it necessary to have more annoying devices on planes? Devices that could potentially turn into unnecessary disruptions or dangerous situations. Why add more chaos to an existing stressful confined location? Lets face it, flying is a nerve racking process in itself, so mixing in these distractions could potentially get ugly at about 30,000 feet.
Yet, some love this idea. They welcome it with open arms because they are the ones married to their Blackberry’s and iPhones, and can’t get enough of texting or checking their email every 5 seconds. For those who fall into this category, you may not want to rejoice just yet. Being able to use these devices on a flight also means that you no longer can use the excuse, “I was flying and didn’t get your call” or “I was flying and couldn’t call you back” when the boss, the nagging wife, the client you don’t have an answer for, or anyone else you want to avoid calls you during your flight. Soon, you will be expected to pick up the call.
However, some of these Airline Cell Phone Providers claim the in-flight usage can be turned off by the cabin crew or is limited to 12 people at a time. But this won’t stop cell phone companies and airlines that are profusely driven by popular demand to add more antennas, making it accessible for more people to use cell phones on flights. Unfortunately cell phone companies have become the “drug dealer” of our generation, cashing in on us as a society that has become dependant and addicted to cell phone, Internet, and other such usage at any cost. And lets not forget, kids now own cell phones too.
Ultimately, the problem of cell phone usage on flights poses potential problems such as dealing with air rage, possible cell phone bombs, terrorist coordination using cell phones, or pilot reports of interference with aircraft navigational equipment. And while the show ‘Mythbusters’ debunked the ever popular “cell phones can crash planes” theory, they themselves used a mock setup, not an actual 737 or 747. Many seasoned Pilots claim it’s not likely a plane will crash as airplane systems are heavily shielded. But back in December 2007, 20/20 did a report where they presented an aviation safety database maintained by NASA that shows a handful of incidents each year reported by pilots who suspected cell phones and other electronic devices had caused a problem during flight. A Carnegie Mellon University study conducted about four years ago also found that portable electronics, not just cell phones, interfere with airplane systems especially GPS.
I believe it is a good idea to have access to use a cell phone on a flight, BUT only in an emergency situation where you need to contact your family or the police. But I do not think it’s a good idea to add yet another distraction to a crucial environment where if it gets too loud or annoying, you don’t have the choice to just leave.