We’re in for it now!

December 12, 2013 • 2:14 pm

This bulletin from CNN just came in two minutes ago.

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 today to consider lifting its ban on in-flight cell phone use.

The FCC has banned in-flight calls for technical reasons. But new technology has made that ban obsolete, the commission says, and there’s no reason to continue it.

Well, there go my quiet plane flights when, freed from my electronic shackles, I have the time and luxury to think and read.  Now I’ll have to listen to some goddam businessman set up meetings, or some yahoo start his call by saying, “Guess what? I’m calling you from an AIRPLANE.”  There will be no way to escape these people.

This will not go well.


93 thoughts on “We’re in for it now!

  1. Let’s look on the bright side, if there is one: sales of noise canceling headphones will probably go up, as will sales of earplugs hunters use, so buy stock in those companies now.

    1. Unfortunately noise cancelling earphones only work on low-frequency continuous noise – they remove a lot of the actual airplane noise, but thus make the frequencies human speech uses easier to hear (unless your music is really loud of course, loud enough for your fellow passengers to hear . . .)

      1. Actually we love our Bose noise cancelling headphones on any flight. Not only does it cut low freq, engine it cuts out the high freq., crying kids, even mutes person sitting next to you talking. We have for years considered it a nice upgrade.

    1. Which is precisely why it’s appropriate for the FCC to lift the government-imposed ban and let airlines and their passengers decide for themselves how much cell phone use is too much.

      I don’t want to come across as some sort of Randian free-market fanatic, but the FCC is not and should not be the politeness police. If there’s no technical reason for the ban, get rid of it. That seems like a no-brainer to me.

      1. I wasn’t advocating keeping the FCC ban. (I would have thought it would have been the FAA in the past as a safety issue for airplane electronics).

  2. Actually a Congressman has introduced a bill to ban cell phone use on airplanes.


  3. I agree completely!! The next-to-the-last thing I want to hear on an airplane is some joker telling his girlfriend how much he misses her, or someone with a crappy connection raising their voice to get more volume into the phone. This is one aspect of air travel that the airlines needs to shut down, and we need to stand with them on this.

    1. There are a hundred different ways to be rude on airplanes. I’ve had the dubious pleasure of sitting next to armrest hogs, chatty cathies, guys reading softcore porn magazines, people with tiny bladders who insist on window seats, drunks who knock back drinks continuously throughout the flight, businessmen with paperwork deployed on every available surface, cleanliness freaks who wipe down the seat and tray table with pungent disinfectants, busybodies who interrupt my reading to ask what I’m reading and what sort of device I’m reading it on, and so forth. The list is endless.

      So what makes cell-phone use so especially heinous compared to all of the above that it merits a government-imposed ban?

      1. If there are already a hundred ways to be rude, then why have another one? I don’t enjoy flying like I used to, so I just try to sleep the flight away. I think that would be next to impossible if someone is talking over a phone next to me. It is called “courtesy.”

      2. In the past FAA/FCC could not prove that cell phone use would not conflict with the airplane’s antennas both voice and navigation. Airplanes sometimes use the entire shell of the plane. With newer airplanes and,better shielding, and more testing, the concerns are becoming taken care of.

  4. Public cell phone use only bothers me when the user talks to loud for me to ignore. In those instances I insert myself into the conversation loud enough for the person on the other end to hear. If the person talking says anything to me, I give them a dead stare and repeatedly continue in their conversation until the not so subtitle hint is recognized and he/she walks away or talks quietly.

    1. Do you ever get punched in the face? A lot of the time, confrontation has bad consequences (which doesn’t always stop me 🙂

    2. Unfortunately one reason cell phone conversations are loud is because transmission quality is so awful. Phones these days are good at everything but phone calls.

  5. It won’t be business men you’ll hear; they’re probably upset too because it was the only time they could get work done without people bothering them.

    Instead you’ll hear everyone calling to chat about boring mundane things and because the background noise is loud, they’ll turn up their volume and then speak louder.

  6. Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t understand why overhearing a cell phone conversation is any worse than overhearing a normal face-to-face conversation. Get some noise-cancelling headphones and an iPad, load it with content, and relax.

    The worst is some kid sitting behind you kicking the seat back.

    1. There are a few possible reasons (just conjectures):

      1. In a normal conversation there is a tendency to keep the voices down. In cell phone conversation, the cues for the appropriate loudness are lost.

      2. think about it this way: if you are sitting next to two people who are talking on their cells, you have effectively doubled the voices compared to those two just talking to each other.

      3. Also, if you nod off, no one will talk to you. But the person next to you might decide to loudly talk on his phone.

      Of course, I’d need to see a study/experiment to see if these factors are genuine.

      1. #2 doesn’t add up. If my seatmates are talking to each other, that’s one conversation. If they’re each talking on their phones, that’s two half-conversations. Either way it’s roughly the same amount of speech I’m overhearing.

    2. Somehow it’s usually much worse than listening to a face- to- face conversation. I like Paul’s idea about joining the conversation, but it could be dangerous on a plane.

    3. I agree about kids kicking the seat back, it drives into a bitter rage. People who recline their seat back during short flights don’t thrill me either.

          1. Given a choice, I would rather put up with listening to inane cell phone chatter than have someone dump their head in my lap. One is just annoying, the other is rude and can create physical discomfort.

          2. Best to get it out of the way at the start. If they start thinking that they own the space, it can get ugly down the line.

          3. I imagine that you folks build your fences a foot or two over the property line on the principle that the neighbor should do the same on the other side… Or do you dispense with the fence and pee-mark where you think it should go?

      1. I don’t understand the anti-recliner position. A reclined seat is more comfortable for everything except eating. Why wouldn’t you want to recline your seat? And why wouldn’t you want anyone else to either?

        1. And why do we have to have our seats in the fully upright position on takeoff and landing? Is it really going to make any difference if we crash?

          1. Yes, actually. It’s to make it as easy as possible for people to exit the plane quickly. (It’s not commonly appreciated that a large majority of aircraft crashes have survivors, and that a significant proportion of fatalities are not caused by the crash(-landing) but by fire afterwards.)

        2. “A reclined seat is more comfortable for everything except eating.”

          I try to read throughout a flight and I almost always prefer an un-reclined seat.

        3. “A reclined seat is more comfortable for everything except eating.”

          That’s your perception, but not one that is universally shared. Look around the cabin next time you fly and take stock of how many passengers have their seats fully upright, s little reclined, and fully reclined. The number of fully reclined seats will be small.

          Now that the majority of flights I’m on have wifi available, I’m happy to be productive during my time in the tin can. When the person in front of me fully reclines their seat, it’s nearly impossible for me to use even a netbook sized device. A Tablet can work, sort of, but then I have to use the blasted soft keyboard.

          While you might find reclining “more comfortable” the person behind you finds it more challenging to do everything from getting in and our of their seat to anything involving using the seatback tray. Be a good neighbor and don’t recline your seat.

          1. You like inclined and like reclined,
            You like upward and I like downward,
            Inclined, reclined, upward, downward,
            Let’s call the whole thing off.

    4. Why should I have to pack headphones (which some of us find very uncomfortable) because others are being disrespectful?

      1. I pack them because of the engines – has nothing to do with respect. Also the poor kid with the ear ache, sinus problem on a six-hour flight from Alaska had nothing to do with respect. He was in sever, prolonged pain.

        1. Yeah, I feel bad for the kids whose parents refuse to medicate them when they are obviously uncomfortable. A little Benadryl can make the flight much more comfortable for everyone, especially the kid. Before I had my own kid, I would hate sitting anywhere near a child on a plane. Now I know how hard it is and I just try to help however I can.

      2. You voluntarily got into a sardine can with 200 other people. It’s a mathematical certainty that some of them will be disrespectful. You don’t have any control over that. You do have control over what you bring with you to mitigate your discomfort.

  7. Take heart – cell phone reception at high altitudes over rural areas between cities may be so bad that dropped calls will discourage much use in the middle of flights.

    1. I think you have a point. At 9 km from even reasonably strong signals may be an issue for some phones. Most of state of New Mexico does not work, period. And much of the Southwest is inhomogeneously covered.

    2. To say nothing of long haul flights over the Pacific or Atlantic. Actually in Australia you can really only use the phone in a plane while directly over a capital city. No you can’t ask how I know this! 😉

    3. Technology exists to put a “cell tower” on the airplane and use another radio to multiplex the signals to a ground station to connect to the phone system.

  8. Airlines that permit unrestricted phone use, if any are foolish enough to do so, will at some point be compelled to institute noise restrictions. Flight attendants will be the enforcers. This will suck for them. I hope airlines promulgate policy that permits texting only/emergency voice calls supervised by flight crews.

  9. I’m not sure how the technology for this will work. Connecting to cell sites 4 to 5 miles below and while moving at 5 times the speed of an automobile should create connection challenges.

    I suspect that airlines will see this as an opportunity to monetize a passenger behavior, so they will install cell sites on the planes much as they have 802.11b/c/g WiFi. Of course, it won’t be one of the big (Sprint, Verizon, AT&T) cellular providers, so passengers will incur roaming charges. The airlines win, again.

  10. Oh my god. I may have to end people if I hear them talk about their useless conversations while on a plane. Their thoughts already annoy me.

    Please, let us revise and implement the commandments as Hitchen’s suggested (#8):

    Turn off that fucking cell phone. You can have no idea how unimportant your call is to us.

    1. “Turn off that fucking cell phone. You have no idea how unimportant your call is to us.”

      I ride the public transit system to work every day and my ears are bombarded by the annoying conversations of people using their cell phones, at least I can get off after a short ride, I feel your angst.

      Thanks for the Hitch quote.

  11. The funny thing is that the “new” technology is over 10 years old. Since aircraft moved to GPS for long-range navigation way back in the late 1980s to early 1990s, the prime reason for banning the phones was a glitch in the commonly installed cell systems – they could actually hang due to the phones rapidly switching between cells. Since that was fixed a very long time ago and it’s likely that none of the old glitchy stuff is still in use, the only drawback is a shorter battery life for folks who use their phones. As a test pilot told me half jokingly, they only ask people to switch off their phones so that passengers wouldn’t complain about the battery going flat during the flight.

  12. Oh bloody hell, previously the only bitch I had was a jerk in front of me (in coach) pushing his seat back into my lap. Hopefully there won’t be good reception on the way to Maui.

  13. I shall not be any sort of perpetrator. Come fly with me; perhaps, thus, I should commence my own such airline.

    I have no, and never have had a, cell phone.

    It is lovely.

  14. Way back when, in the time when people stuck smoldering bundles of kindling in their mouths, airlines used to segregate flights between polluters and non-polluters.

    If they have even an ounce of a clue, if they permit phones on planes at all, they’ll again do so only for those in the SCREAM YOUR FUCKING HEAD OFF ABOUT YOUR EMBARRASSING MEDICAL PROCEDURES section.

    Then again, I’m not planning on flying at all so long as the TSA is still gate raping everybody.


    1. It takes calculated mental activity to recall when cigs were allowed on planes…what a hell. Phone use will be a different hell…I think worse than TSA…by a lot. Last two trips my shoes stayed on and laptop in backpack. And I love nakedness…so I have no problem losing the garb…but they never ask me.

        1. A person I knew was employed as aircraft tidy staff. His group cleaned cabins following flights. He said air filters in the ventilation system could make him puke.

    2. I flew last week and at least half the passengers (including me) were being processed through the precheck line. Shoes and belts stayed on, computers and shampoo stayed in the bag, and no body scanner or pat-downs, just an old-school metal detector.

      I take this as a face-saving retreat from the failed policy of gate-raping everyone. By promoting almost everyone into the precheck category, they defuse a lot of bad feeling and avoid embarrassing incidents with little old ladies and nursing mothers, while pretending that they’re still protecting us from terrorists.

      1. That just happened to me, too. My wife was wearing our baby and they just let us go ahead, belts and shoes stayed on. It’s nice that they finally realized nursing mothers are extremely unlikely to be wearing explosives. Oh no! I just profiled! I’m as bad as Sam Harris.

  15. As an atheist, I can only say “Heaven forefend!” I used to work in Washington and had to sit on shuttle buses with these vile cell phone addicts. When they hang up one call they literally seem to be gasping for breath as they fumble with the keys on their phones before the next person answers. If you dare to object after they’ve been at it for an hour, they act like junkies who’ve just had their next hit snatched away.

    Delta has announced they will retain their ban on cell phones regardless of what the government does. They’re not the best airline I’ve ever flown, but they’ll have 100% of my business if the rest of the airlines cave.

  16. Two distinctly seperate issues. The purpose of the FCC ban was to address a safety issue. If there is no longer a safety issue the FCC ban should, absolutely, be deleted. I applaud such neatness, which seems rare when it comes to regulations and laws.

    Politeness and passenger comfort are not the concern of the FCC and should not be. The airlines are free to ban or restrict cell phone use on their planes as they see fit. And their customers are free to suggest, demand and complain to the airlines about cell phone use on planes for whatever reasons they care to.

  17. Still banned for us. Using one airside is an instant sacking offence. Not that you’d get one on board through the obligatory pat down, or be able to get it out of a pocket through the goon suit.
    Always fun.

  18. I could see allowing texting and vibrate, but allowing voice and ringtones will just add to the annoying conditions of being in a cramped, crowded space. Flying is already a tiring and annoying exercise without adding more noise to it.

  19. The only thing that could be worse would be if they had flight attendants clearing debris in the aisles with a leaf blower.

  20. NO !! please no. I don´t want to hear your stupid drivel, and I dont want to wear headphones. Its an addiction. Chill out a while hey. Why not ?

Leave a Reply