Topic of the Week: Cell Phones on Airplanes


The FCC says it will revisit a ban on cell phones on airplanes. Do you like that plan? Personally, I fully support the FCC removing the ban. Let the airlines decide if they want to allow it or not.

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71 comments on “Topic of the Week: Cell Phones on Airplanes

  1. It would present a marketing dilemma for the airlines, they have to figure out if allowing it is going to anger or please a majority of their customers and risk losing the business to other airlines that go in the opposite direction on the issue.

  2. I don’t think it’s as big a deal as people think. I’ve heard a lot of people griping about voice calls destroying the “peace and quiet” of the cabin – but let’s face it, the cabin was not quiet to begin with. I think someone who is speaking at a reasonable volume into their handset won’t be heard more than a seat away over the drone of the engines.

    I don’t think most people will be using their phones for talking anyway – it will be incredibly difficult to hear the person on your phone over the engines. More importantly, I would imagine the airlines will charge an arm and a leg for this service. Emirates offers it already, and they charge rates that are basically the same as international voice roaming – that can be upwards of $6 a minute or more. I think the market will keep the number of calls to a minimum, just like it did in the 90s when there were airphones on pretty much every plane that no one ever used…

    I’m even more confident that this will be an expensive service because of the manner in which it was introduced. The new FCC Chair is a former telco lobbyist. in suggesting the rule change, he is essentially, he’s doing the bidding of AT&T and Verizon – who want to make money off this new market. You’re crazy if you think they’ll be willing to settle for just the ordinary monthly minutes to make a call. No, they’ll want to classify this as international roaming (or some other special designation) and bill your minutes outside your normal plan. They’ll probably offer a certain percentage as a kickback to the airlines.

    The biggest benefit of this change will be the ability to text from the air. It will be an expensive text to send/receive (probably $1/msg or so) but that’s way cheaper than the rate for voice calls, and you can pack a good amount of info into 140 characters.

    1. Matthew — You mention not hearing someone talking at “reasonable volume into their handset won’t be heard more than a seat away.” What about the poor person stuck next to him or her? For hours? What about the two partyers two rows behind me I endured recently chatting and laughing most of the night on a SFO-JFK redeye despite noise-cancelling headset?

    2. “You’re crazy if you think they’ll be willing to settle for just the ordinary monthly minutes to make a call. ”

      I would be interested to know if this is true. I have mistakenly left my phone on during a flight and heard it ringing in-flight and I thought some of the people on the 9/11 flights were calling people from their cell phones when their planes were hijacked? If we have reception now how would they be able to differentiate it from our normal service?

      1. Southeasterner – If you’re using ground cell service, then they wouldn’t know either way. But if you’re at altitude you’ll have to use a separate cell. The way that works is it’s as if you’re roaming in another country. Think of the sky as another country. So whatever roaming rates apply in that country, that’s what you’d pay. But i’ll go on your bill.

  3. If the US airlines follow Emirates’ model, most people will not use the service except for extremely urgent matters.

  4. I see no reason for the FAA to keep phones off planes if there isn’t a safety issue. I mean, the FAA doesn’t regulate a guy snoring in the row in front of me, or leaning back his seat 5 minutes after I take off my laptop, so why this?

    You could limit cellphone voice use to say, the first few rows or something. Airlines try and monetize it: Maybe premium economy is a cell-friendly zone; maybe it’s a cell-forbidden zone.

    1. Airlines used to do this for smoking. So there could be a cell free zone and people could be asked to pay more for being in it…or out of it which ever turned out to be more profitable for airlines.

      The biggest problem would be when two ‘shouters’ are sitting next to each other. Fun to observe from a distance, but a pain to sit near.

    2. Just because all annoyances can’t be regulated doesn’t mean we shouldn’t regulate what we can. People are no longer allowed to smoke in flight.

      1. But Tom, second-hand smoke is definitely a health risk. A conversation in the next row is not.
        That’s a pretty concerning comment that we need to regulate what we can. Can you tell me why you believe that?

  5. I disagree with this. Some people, (my own father included) find it necessary to YELL every time they have a cell phone conversation. They’re banned in a lot of waiting rooms, buses, trains, etc. There’s no need for it anymore. WiFi is good enough so it should be left at that.

  6. Data is plenty. Please keep the voice stuff disabled. The only problem is what to do about Skype and other voice services masquerading as data

  7. Well perhaps its another premium service, Airlines can start charing extra for the ‘Quiet Cabin.’ I picture something like the Quiet Cars on railroads that Amtrak and other Commuter Railroads in the Northeast like Metro-North, New Jersey Transit, Long Island Railroad, SEPTA have.

    Wait on a plane your all in a single tube, there not separate cars with doors like a train.

  8. To me it’s the same as someone on the train during commuter hours talking on their phone. I’ve sat next to people and I didn’t even know they were on the phone because they knew they didn’t have to scream into the phone to be heard. Then you have the idiot at the other end of the car you can hear loud and clear because they are yelling into their phone thinking they have to.

    But unlike a train I can’t just change cars or get off and reboard another train in two minutes, on an airplane you are stuck.

    I also don’t think you will have two hundred people talking at once on a cell phone. But there’s going to be the chatty person who will talk only because they can and everyone around them will have to hear some needless conversation. Someone will ‘snap’ and things will get ugly over it. Now we’ll have flying landing at the nearest airport because two people get into a scream match about someones loud talking on the phone.

    Maybe we’ll have to go back to the old fashion way of flying. “Would you like cell phone or non-cell phone seating”

  9. Noise-cancelling headphones do just that. Unfortunately the human voice is signal, not noise. To drown out human voices, you’re better off taking them off and putting in earplugs.

    This is air-rage waiting to happen. People on mobile phones aren’t known as having the best etiquette ever. I hope the airlines factor in the cost of flight diversions into their decision.

    Personally I would prefer an airline that doesn’t allow it, but schedule and price will win out. It’s not the differentiator that say wifi is.

  10. CF — As a point of political philosophy, I agree with you that the FCC no longer has technical reasons to ban cell phones use on planes. However, I believe the FAA still has a dog in this fight as there remains a safety/security dimension to their use in the air. The social friction created by inconsiderate/obnoxious misuse of cell phones could quickly escalate into situations threatening the physical safety of passengers, flight crew, and/or the aircraft. Or, not to be paranoid, it could be one more tool for those meaning harm to a flight to use. Here the FAA has a legitimate safety of flight interests, similar to those regulating smoking, alcohol, carry-ons, etc.

    We all endure all sorts of behaviors on airplanes: mostly involving loud passengers, seatmates who won’t shut up, parents oblivious to their screaming children. I recall a flight some years ago when there were still air phones. This jerk began his call as soon as service was available. After some minutes of loud offensive conversation, he was getting glares from all over the cabin. An F/A asked him to lower his voice; he merely glared back at her. She came by again, quietly asking him again to lower his voice. He shot back some vulgarities. It took a mom sitting in front of him turning around to tell him not to speak to a stranger like that, that we are all sick of listening to him, and she did not want her children hearing his foul language. A chorus of agreement around the cabin went up in support of the mom. Do we really want scenes like this and worse played out day after day?

    I don’t think having quiet rows will work any better than did non-smoking sections of yore. I am quite confident should cell phone use aloft come to pass, airlines will monetize it both ways: pay more to sit in a “quiet” section and pay to use your yell phone. And if you don’t get seating in the section you want…oh, god. We get the hell we deserve.

    1. Nick C – I don’t think the FAA has any dog in this fight. If they’re going to allow all other electronics in all phases of the flight, why would they single out phones? I mean, you could have loud volume on some other device and piss people off.

      1. Agree to disagree I suppose. I’ve found people much more willing to turn down or off the volume on their PEDs. Cell phones, well, no matter how politely or firmly asked, some people just plain take offense. I’m just saying, like smoking, alcohol, or anything else that creates safety of flight issues, the FAA has been granted the authority to regulate. I’m no fan of the FAA, but even in these anti-government times, someone has to referee. Some commentors have suggested the cabin crew or the captain make the call, but that just creates yet another distraction or a diversion. I’m all for free markets to make the call on a lot of things, but in a pressurized aluminum tube six miles in the sky, things have to be a little more regulated than on the ground.

        Given the number of passengers who purchase their ticket based solely on price, whether an airlines offers cell phone service, quiet rows, etc, voting with one’s feet becomes irrelevant. Price for most people trumps just about everything.

  11. Agree with Cranky: let the airlines decide. And then I will decide which one I choose to fly. Spoiler alert: it will be the one where relative peace & quiet is guaranteed.

    1. I don’t think they use airships anymore. More likely, you’ll take a jet-propelled aircraft, which affords zero “peace & quiet.”

  12. Lift the ban but I sure hope the airlines ban cell phones. All it takes is one to allow the use of cell phones and the rest will join in. It is probably business flyers who will use it and maybe they are all in first class?

    1. Nah. It is not the people in first class that will use the phones, it is the wage slaves who have to be available non-stop.

      It used to be that the cell phone was the status symbol. Now, NOT having a cell phone (or at least not having to be available via cell phone) is the sign of status. If you want me, call my (human) PA. The PA will filter all calls, and I hardly ever need to answer or use a phone. The serfs in my employ however, must be available for my PA to call whenever it suits me, be that on a plane or the toilet…and they’d better be there within three rings. LOLOL.

  13. Imagine if you are trying to sleep-especially on long flights-and people are yammering on the phone. That’s when you wish the TSA would let you bring pepper spray. Maybe, putting a crying baby awakened by the jerk in the jerk’s lap would work.

  14. Much as I oppose federal regulation of our freedoms, I am absolutely confident that lifting the ban will lead to all airlines allowing cell phone use in flight. This may boost the stock price of Bose and others who make noise canceling headsets, but it will worsen an already barely tolerable in-flight experience.

    A sort of Gresham’s Law is at work in commercial aviation, with the lowest priced, lowest quality experience driving any pleasure and comfort out of the air travel experience. Airlines seem bent on losing a little on every transaction and making it up in volume (sarcasm). The competitive model means that occasional travelers tolerate the experience, most road warriors are forced by their employers to ride steerage with the rude and the unwashed, and corporate executives ride in the front cabin with the airline dependents.

    Whether Alfred Kahn would have predicted this, I cannot say, but I am fed up with commercial air travel in the US and Europe, and seek every opportunity to avoid it – particularly on regional aircraft. Are there exceptions? Yes, but they are so infrequent and unpredictable as to be of no benefit.

  15. Allowing cell phone use in flight will be disruptive and is unnecessary. There are too many cell phone users who are on their phone just because they can be regardless of where they are or whether or not there is any substance or urgency to their call. Why do so many restaurants work so hard to ban cell phones? Do you want to be the person sitting next to a compulsive cell phone user yammering away on multiple calls for an entire flight? If there is information that needs to be shared during a flight email and text messaging provide more than adequate methods to meet that need. Why set up circumstances that too easily can lead to conflict in an enclosed area when there are multiple other technological methods to meet any communication needs that do not have such a potential? Letting individual airlines make the decision is not a solution, particularly given the new fee for service model most airlines now use for luggage, seating and other “perks”. If an airline can generate another revenue stream from cell phone usage they will and deal disruptions on an individual bases as they occur.

  16. FCC aside, I rue the day that the airlines let it happen… Oh my land, what a pinnacle of a truly miserable experience air travel would become. From the continual nickeling and diming at the ticket counter, to the strip search grope at security, to the middle seat with the nonstop seat kicker, to the ground stops and delays … my blood pressure goes up just thinking about what an unpleasant experience air travel is now. Sure we can go farther and faster and accomplish so much more than our predecessors, but because many people ignore the fact that there are others stuck in the tube with them for many hours, the airplane joy is now a trial…cell phone use would be the last straw…oh man, I feel like crawling into the fetal position and whimpering I can see this being so bad…Oh the humanity!!

  17. HE@$ NO!
    Ordinarily, I’m all for keeping the government out of business as much as possible. Lots of comments above about “people will be kind” and “it won’t be as much of a deal as others think” and, most importantly, from a philosophical standpoint, “let the market decide.” But this is a public safety issue of the highest import that will get very personal, very quickly. Look….or more to the point…listen around….people really don’t know how loud they are on a cell phone and it will become a confrontation…and an inflight safety issue real quick. No sooner this am, had I read the USAToday article when I was sitting in a hotel lobby, not very crowded, but surrounded by people “talking normally” on their cell phones. I can tell you scary details about imminent medical procedures, the closing of a big business deal and how “little Sean” is going to play this weekend in his soccer league. Annoying as “heck” and we weren’t even crowded. multiply by 150 passengers and there will be trouble. You think we have trouble when the guy in front of you reclines his seat too far….give him cell phone privileges and there will be war.

  18. Just think how obnoxious some people are in Restaurants
    and other public venues with their cell phone.
    Imagine being captive to 10 people
    talking loudly around you on a coast to coast flight.
    I agree wi fi is fine for doing work sending emails etc
    Flight crews will now be forced to tell people to pipe down
    when being too loud and obnoxious on their phones.
    And what call is SO important, that it cannot
    wait until you arrive at your destination.

  19. Good grief! No, no, no….h**** no!

    Flying is miserable enough now, and the prospect of loud-mouthed buffoons making life miserable for those around them sends chills down my spine.

    However, if airlines want to install a “cone of silence” for potential cell phone users, maybe the old British Red Phone Box, where compulsive talkers could go to place their calls, then I could support that.

    Put it in the back, next to the toilet doors, so it won’t be in the way.

    Wi-fi e-mails are quite enough to stay in touch (although most people are also using that in an OCD way), in the rare event that something can’t wait – until the flight is over – to be communicated.

  20. I agree with previous posts. I do NOT want the ban lifted. I don’t need to listen to someone’s personal conversation while we are flying. People are rude to begin with…no reason to provide another tool with which they can exercise their poor behavior.

  21. Hate the idea. People have a tendency to speak louder on cell phone because it is harder to hear and they think they have to speak up to BE heard. I don’t care what the FAA does, I think voice calls should not be enabled on planes for all of the reasons others have stated. The last thing we need is another reason for people to get angry and act out on planes. They should definitely not be allowed when lights go off on red eye flights

  22. All this is pretty much moot anyway. Ever tried to turn on your cell phone in flight? There is no signal at flight altitude. The cell towers are designed to throw the signal to the ground, not the air.

    They can allow it if they want, but most often you won’t have a signal to call from unless the plane is low to the ground…and they would ban it under 10,000 feet.

    That notwithstanding, sure is a whole lot of crying going on. If someone is bothering you, speak up and ask them to be quiet. That goes for whether they are on a cell phone or just having a loud conversation with their neighbor.

    1. And when they tell you, extremely rudely, to get lost?

      That is the problem.

      Anywhere else, you can shrug your shoulders and move away. That’s hard to do at 30,000 feet.

  23. If the ban is lifted and airlines allow cellphone use, I predict lots of cell yell leading to air rage leading to fisticuffs and lots and lots of diverted flights. Does anyone really need to communicate immediately? That’s why God invented e-mail.

  24. Just make it super expensive (i.e. $5 a minute) and it will keep most from using the service and any other calls short and to a minimum. I had a cruise that had cell service, but it was so expensive hardly anyone used it. I could see the same thing happening on planes. Charge a premium for it and there won’t be too many issues.

  25. I just spent an hour on the ground listening to some AH in First across the aisle and two rows back from me talking to some business colleague about a deal he was doing and the 2 million dollar check he would send when he got back to Dallas the next day. Does anyone need to listen to people blabbering about anything when they are captive in the aluminum tube for hours on end. I think not. Text away. Keep your mouth shut. NOBODY talks in a quiet tone when they are on a cell phone, particularly in a noisy cabin. Sure, anyone can go ahead and ask someone to keep it down, just like anyone can ask or worse demand that the person in the seat in front not crush their knees with the seat recliner. Besides being told F-U or worse, causing a scene that leads to a near riot or at worst, winding up causing an event that gets one placed on the No Fly list for interfering with a flight, nothing will inhibit the offending person. Therefore, most people won’t do anything about noisy talkers and will just suck it up and try to live with it. If this goes through, unless every airline allows it, I will fly ONLY airplanes with NO voice phone conversations allowed. Screaming babies are one thing. Self important idiots who don’t understand the meaning of leaving your neighbors to peaceful quiet, such as there is in an aircraft cabin, will never be shut up or silenced. Isn’t there any sense left among us that somewhere we can be disconnected. Nothing in life requires us to be on the phone 24/7. I don’t care how much your “business” needs you. If you drop dead today, your business and the world will little note nor long care that you were disconnected for a few hours on an airplane and didn’t check in during that time. Enough lack of civility is enough. Keep cell phones banned on airplanes or charge such outrageous fees that people won’t use them. If this must go through, then I say let the FAA set the minimum each airline can charge for service at no less than $500 a minute for voice access and maybe then people will not use their phones for other than true emergencies in flight.

  26. Of course, it would be nice if everyone acted responsibly, whether with cell phones, with smoking, with alcohol and drugs, with bringing on carry-ons that contain hazardous materials or objects that could be used to disrupt a flight, or with, heaven help us, one’s personal hygiene.

    Do we need the government to set the rules (the do’s, the do not’s, the penalties applicable to violations) or should it be up to the airline, maybe the flight crew, or how about THE captain, or a vote by passengers on each flight, showing either a majority of people approving or else an absence of anyone disapproving?

    And we wonder why it takes so long to write regulations and why they are so long!

  27. This is a VERY bad idea – who needs to listen to the loud, one-sided conversation of an inconsiderate passenger behind you, or (God forbid) next to you while you’re crammed into a too-small, no-legroom airline seat with no means of escape until landing? We know how unpleasant flying has become of late, for most of us who travel by air – extra fees for everything, tight overhead space allocations, cabins reeking of the fast-food meals passengers bring on board. Why add another unnecessary irritant to the mix? I used to love flying. Now, I just endure it.

  28. One only has to take a ride on the Acela between NYC and Washington to see what a disaster allowing cellphone use will become.

  29. As a frequent user of mass transit, my experience there causes my answer to be not just no, but h*ll no. I’ve listened to enough conversations on a crowded train either describing, in excruciating detail, the caller’s hemorrhoids problem and/or their exhaustive knowledge of English-language obscenities, every time at yell volume, of course. I’d put the odds of having at least one jerk like that on every flight at perhaps 1 in 3, and when that person shows up, it’s going to be like the scene in Airplane! where the Punjabi guy drenches himself in gasoline and lights the match when Stryker sits down next to him and won’t shut up.

    That being said – I’ve come around to the opinion that the market needs to decide whether cell phones should be allowed or not. I get the public safety argument, but we already allow other electronic devices, and not to mention alcohol service, on flights. I just don’t see how talking on a phone is any more dangerous. Or for that matter, how a loud cell phone conversation is more likely to trigger passenger Kung-Fu any more than a seatmate being obnoxiously drunk, watching porn on their laptop, or reclining their seat into the lap of the person behind them. I would just like to see the price point set high enough to deter most use, except for things that are truly earth shattering. I also very much like the idea of setting up a phone booth-like thing in the back that can be rented out for a fee, though logistically, that’s probably a nightmare in the making.

  30. There will be “blood in the aisles” if this is allowed.
    Note the reactions to abuse on “quiet passenger transit railcars”.
    We are a nation of individuals that don’t care about the result of their actions on others.

  31. For what it’s worth from someone who is 65 years old and a retired airline executive, why does anyone have to speak on the phone unless it’s life or death? I can understand if someone just had a baby, or if someone you’re traveling to see in the hospital just passed away, but business can wait and if everyone would please be quiet on the plane, maybe some of us older folks can catch up on some much needed rest! ha, ha, ha.

  32. The reason people tend to talk louder on cell phones in noisy environments is that there is not any self-limiting mechanism. Using a land line, some of your voice and the ambient noise is fed back from the mouthpiece to the earpiece so your ear hears what you sound like in the current situation and you self limit the volume. Cell Phones do not feedback your voice and ambient noise because your transmission and the reception by the cell phone are on separate frequencies. Studies have shown that cell phone users do not self limit the volume of their portion of the call due to this.

    My vote is ABSOLUTELY NO on relaxing the ban!!!!!

    My absolute version of hell would be to be in the middle seat on a red-eye flight with passengers on either side talking LOUDLY during the whole flight.

    I predict air rage and fights will significantly increase if cell phones are allowed.

    Maybe the loosening of this ban is really the terrorists at work.

    As Machiavelli once said ” Never get in the way of your enemy when he is trying to destroy himself” :)

    1. I wonder if this is a generational thing — My dad who is in his sixties raises his voice to use a cell phone. I don’t. (At least I’m pretty sure I don’t.)

      I bet this study is just showing that people are trained how to use landlines, and reacting with their training.

      FWIW, VoIP phones, which are designed to mimic landlines feed back some of the voice into the earpiece, but the sent and received audio is transmitted in different bands.

  33. I miss the days when there could be reasonable discussion about anything. Now half the dialogue is completely over the top. There won’t be blood in the aisles or riots on planes. That’s just ridiculous. You will run across an obnoxious phone caller about as often as you run across a seatmate chatterbox, drunk, or screaming kid. It’s not the end of the world. They have just as much right to make a phone call if they want as you do to tell them to STFU. It’s not a safety issue. Leave the government out of it. If the airlines think that going one way or the other is better for them, so be it.

  34. I have no problem with text and other quiet things, but I am totally against cell calls on planes. Try as I might, I can’t filter that stuff out. And I’ve noticed that the volume of a given cell phone conversation seems to be correlated to its inanity. I remember a flight I was on several years ago that sat on the tarmac for several hours during a ground stop because of a snowstorm at ORD: the quietest (and shortest) conversation was a mother who was trying to arrange for her kids to be picked up after school because she would be late and the loudest (and longest) was some cretin who was bragging in graphic detail about a sexual conquest from the previous evening. This will create more problems than it solves. I look forward to the FCC’s public comment phase and will be sharing my concerns with each of the airlines I currently do business with.

  35. Whether you personally like it or not, it’s a matter of personal liberty where you want to take a call or not. Yes, there are rude people who will shout into their phones and disrupt those around them, however we must remember that at the end of the day, an airplane is simply another public place and another form of public transportation. Yes, I’m taking a “libertarian” point of view here.
    If the FCC removes the ban, it will be because they cannot justify it from a safety perspective; passenger comfort and peaceful spaces are not necessarily factors that the FCC is concerned with. That is more of an airline domain, however I seriously doubt people will make their airline choice based upon this factor. Choice of airline remains primarily about price and loyalty, but I digress.

  36. If the question is what would I prefer, I would prefer they do not allow it. I am ending the year with 244,000 Delta MQM’s this year and the idea that there would be passengers on planes I am on alking on the phone is not pleasant. I remember 15 or 20 years ago when the planes had phones in seats and I recall how disruptive it was.

    Occasional fliers may not care, but as a true road warrior for 30 plus tears, I find solace and an opportunity to rest up or focus on a project while on a flight and it’s one of the few sanctuaries left horrible busy people.

  37. Considering that I have sat in an otherwise quiet airline club lounge and listened to a businessman across the room announce his AMEX number so loudly into his cell phone that I was tempted to write it down and use it on eBay or something, I have little faith that everyone who uses their phone on the plane will speak at an appropriate volume.

    But hey, let ’em make their calls: I can entertain myself by Tweeting the loud people’s conversations.

  38. …because, I will be on a flight next to some ditz who will spend 30 minutes saying “Ohmygod, do you like know where I am calling from? No! I’m like on a plane, yeah, with my phone! Yeah, can you believe it? Uh huh!….etc

    Same thing happened when there were sky phones…but that cost money, so people didn’t do it much.

      1. I was on a flight once and the girl next to me called someone, and tried to convince them she was airborne. I made muffled sounds like she was in the terminal “United Airlines, now boarding rows…etc” the person on the other end thought she was at the gate…

  39. Why is it anyone else’s business how much time a person spends on the phone? MYOB! If the conversation gets loud ask them to quiet down. Just like you would now.

    If you want quiet get some ear plugs and a mask and shut them out. Whether they are on the phone or just bragging loudly about how important they are to anyone on the plane that will listen. That annoys me far more than any phone conversation.

    Hell, most people would text anyway.

    1. This is exactly my point. Neither passenger comfort nor the phone user’s loudness/rudeness/bimbo-ness is the concern of the FCC. There is no relevance to how much someone hates cell phone chatter in public. The airplane is also a public place. Sorry to inform those who wish it to be otherwise…

  40. Cell phones are a necessary evil but I do not want to be on a plane, trapped, listening to people talk about all the inane things in their life. And, listen to them at a high volume.

  41. A different way to look at this is to think of it as free inflight entertainment.

    A lot of people watch reality shows about boring worthless people and their ‘sure its for real’ life on the jersey shore or about something else. So just sit back and listen to other boring worthless people talking about their life on a cell phone and pretend it’s tv. The one advantage is you’ll be able to join in on the conversation they are having by asking them questions and asking what the other person said. You can’t do that with television.

    And remember when told “This is a personal call”, the proper reply is “It’s not personal if you’re making it in public”. This will usually get the person to lower their voice or hang up.

    Happy flying.

    Hope you read that with a smile, but from what I’ve read here and a story in today’s paper, it doesn’t sound like most people are happy about the thought of this. And as one woman said, are the lavs now going to turn into private phone booths for those that want to have a private conversation. Good point!

  42. Before a flight from Dulles to Seattle the 20-ish guy next to me was talking to his girlfriend about how he needs his space, he is too cool for one girl, she has to learn to accept it. He was loud and clueless. Everyone around him including me tried to give him hints…staring at him, coughing, shaking our heads, and he saw the hints but continued because a narcissistic ‘cool’ guy with the world at his feet, does what he wants. The only thing that prevented a scene was the inevitable announcement to turn off the phones. If it wasn’t for that announcement then no doubt we would have to endure a lot more of his personal melodrama. He was the sort of person that would have ignored any pleas for quiet based on common courtesy.

  43. No cell phones – it’s bad enough when people use them during boarding and are reluctant to end their calls when the cabin door is closed.

  44. “Let the fist fights begin”…exactly what’ll happen if people are allowed to use their cell phones to make phone calls……I don’t want to hear about “Aunt Martha’s goiter, thanks…..

  45. I dread the days when people will start talking on their phones during flight. As someone that logged 300K+ miles last year I enjoy the flight time as a last bastion of freedom from the drone of others demanding my time. Also, from experience we all know that people are generally not polite and typically do not take others into account as they speak on their phones in a public space. I am not speaking about road warriors that tend to show extreme patience and flexibility, but the spoiled bratty 3% that feel somehow entitled to do as they please without regard to the other 97% of us.

    As the Japanese have learned, banning phones in public spaces is just good for us all. Banning calls on flights doesn’t mean banning use of the phones data features. Common sense should rule and we should all have some limits dictated by societal “best practices.” No sense “annoying your neighbors.”

  46. Texting inflight should be allowed but allowing actual cell phone calls are just asking for a huge spike in air-rage incidents along with the expensive and inconvenient diversions. The airline that does not allow calls in flight will have my respect and business whenever possible price be damned.

  47. I completely agree. In fact, anyone who wants to use a phone on a plane shoudl be required to wear a sound-proof bag over his or her head while doing so. Oxygen coudl be sold as an extra.

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Cranky Flier