C’mon, just one more text…

I am very attached to my BlackBerry (CrackBerry, works fine for me too). I am one of the people who is admonished by the Flight Attendants on almost every flight I take for sending out that one last email or text after they have closed the aircraft door. Hey, we are not in the air yet… I am also one of the first to turn on my device as soon as the plane lands and we start taxiing to the gate. So, if someone asks me about installing cell phone service on planes, they will have my vote.

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Several airlines, including Emirates, on which I have actually made a cell phone call, already have cell phone service. It leads one to conclude that cell phone service will not interfere in any way with the operation of the aircraft. This is just another archaic rule that the FAA refuses to rescind.

We are no longer in the 20th century lads. Let’s get on with it. This recent article by National Geographic Traveler Magazine’s Christopher Elliot, published on CNN.com, does a great job discussing this ongoing conflict between ‘tethered’ passengers and Flight attendants, who are required to enforce this rule.

I know that a lot of people have consternation of other passengers chatting away at the top of their voices on a seat nearby. Trust me, the loud and obnoxious ones don’t need a phone to irritate their fellow passengers. Trains allow cell phones and I have not seen any issues on any of the Amtrak trips I have taken. Another page airlines can take from trains would be a ‘quiet section’ a la ‘Quiet Cars’ on Amtrak trains.

I also saw no passenger being loud and inconsiderate on their cell phone on the Emirates flight I took. Now there the rates Emirates was charging might be keeping people off their phones for long calls. The single call I made cost me about $4 a minute. But at least they gave me the option to make the call, if I really needed to. In reality, I really did not need to make the call I did. I just wanted to be able to say I made a cell phone call at 36,000 feet!

WiFi on aircraft is being rolled out across multiple airlines, as we speak. It is going to be a great source of much needed revenue for airlines too. Certainly beats adding yet another fee for doing something we already do for free. Let’s get the FAA on the bandwagon and install cell phone service while they are at it. Let’s start a petition. Let’s start a Facebook page. Anyone know if Betty White will support this cause?

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  1. One urban myth I heard a really long time back (over 15 years ago) was that the reason why airlines don’t let you make calls on your cellphone was because of an “arrangement amongst them, cellphone service providers and the governments”. The stated reason was that technically you could make calls, but when done from above a certain altitude, fails to register on any billing systems, so the operators lose out ! Of course, 15 years back, when technological omniscience wasn’t what it is today, many believed the story !!!

  2. Hope they see the light of day and rescind this rule. Anyone know of countries/aviation agencies that do not have such a rule? I guess UAE would be one, as Emirates has onboard cell service.

  3. It really doesn’t bother me either way but what really ticks me off is that we’re asked to turn off our phones and not turn them on until we’ve landed, yet I see “tweets” all the time from flight attendants while they’re on the plane.

    Why are they allowed to do it and the passengers are not? If it’s dangerous, it’s dangerous for everyone, not just a select few.

  4. @Monica – If they’re connected to WiFi, Twitter would work just fine. And, as a bonus, passengers can do that, too! It’s called in-flight WiFi!

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