Friday, July 22

Lies The Flight Attendant Told Me

Why can't we use cell phones on airplanes? Not since the days of the Zack Morris phone have there been concerns that mobile phones could actually disrupt aircraft navigation equipment. But that's still the line that flight attendants use to stop people from making in-flight calls--"fighting cell phones at the gate, in the jetway and on taxi-in with a deep intensity born of lack of understanding -- as if the plane might actually explode if someone made an illicit call." But the real reason that modern, digital mobile phones are not permitted to be used in the air, according to ABC News is that cellular companies didn't have their equipment set up to accept calls from above, and so they were bouncing from one tower to another.

But now, there's a plan in the works to allow calls to be routed through a transmitter on planes.
An onboard system will collect all the active cell call signals, reprocess them through a satellite system and feed them into a ground system. And, yes, that's the same cell phone that last year (supposedly) had the potential to create a major airline accident.

Of course, the technology isn't the only concern, so is the annoyance factor. Another factor cited by Homeland Security officials are "concerns about terrorists' ability to use such devices to carry out attacks."

There's a part of me that enjoys the quiet time on a plane, but I do think I'd be more than willing to support the notion of a "tap not talk" policy. Being able to send text messages from a phone while in-flight, but not have to bother seatmates with my conversation (or being forced to listen to their conversations) seems like a good compromise to me.