Why can’t you use your phone on an airplane?


Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/04/27/why-cant-you-use-your-phone.html



The only reason: airlines think it’d be annoying.

Obama’s FCC wanted to phase in cell phone use but Chairman Pai has killed that proposal, saying: “Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet.”


And United needs to restrict your ability to call your attorney from the plane.


Is it possible I’ll have to give up my phone and carry a carrier employee’s phone to my destination? :thinking:


I remember a flight attendant claiming they had technology to tell when and how many phones were being used on a plane. I got a good giggle out of that one.


To be fair - being packed like sardines while being surrounded by people speaking loudly on their phones does sound like a mid circle of hell. They should set up a booth for people to use for necessary calls.


I agree, and believe me, the last thing I want on a flight (next to stinky-man farting on me) is a business-dude having a belligerent conversation for several hours. Or teenage girls talking about the Kardashians for an entire flight. Or whatever. But at the very least, they could OK using phones in the “Phone Zone” or some such thing, as you say. Barring it completely and “permanently”, as Pai says, is pretty ridiculous.


I’m fine with people texting on the flight with me. If they want to talk on their phone they can step outside.

But airlines have a much simpler reason for wanting you to put your phone in airline mode. They want you to use their obscenely priced inflight Wi-Fi. Though, merciful Baphomet, they still ban users from voice or videoconferencing.


Dear ghod, no. “Seats outside the Phone Zone are reservable at a surcharge of $200 per seat.”


If a bunch of businessdudes and folks who can’t give up their phone for a few hours without sweating want to pay $200 more to sit in a phone area just for them, maybe with curtains separating it, I’m fine with that, though.


Read my post again…


I did. I saw that you were predicting that people would have to spend $200 more to sit outside of an area for phone users.

I said that if phone users wanted to pay $200 MORE, instead, “I’m fine with that, though”.

Read my post again…


While seats inside the Phone Zone come with a premium pricing of an additional $200 per seat :wink:


As I understand it, there’s a small chance that certain electronic devices could interfere with the plane’s instruments. Realistically, this is extremely unlikely. In practical application, though, the FAA isn’t completely sure that a device is safe until it’s actually been tested.

And because that would mean testing hundreds of different items, and then restesting each time a new model comes out, it’s easier to just do a blanket ban on an entire classification of electronics like “no cell phones”.

It’s dumb, but it keeps the liability lawyers happy.


This is all missing the important point that you literally can’t use your phone on an airplane–not as a phone, anyway. Cell towers are designed to broadcast horizontally; their vertical range is only a few thousand feet, so in most circumstances it’s impossible to get a signal at cruising altitude.


I’m surprised s/he wasn’t sacked on the spot. The terms of use for StingRay devices are explicit on the topic of public disclosure. The FBI will walk away from a cuffed perp to avoid spilling the beans. What kind of newb was this?


8th amendment ban on cruel and unusual punishment, right?


Probably another reason to be glad that the FAA is currently holding the line.

Since contact with ground stations is going to be spotty at best(especially when flying over oceans; or dealing with networks not designed with handsets that move at mach .85 in mind); the logical approach would be to run a picocell on the plane…

Which would put the notoriously friendly and not at all fee-addicted airlines in charge of dictating the exciting details of exactly how much ‘roaming’ on this particular network is going to cost. This is currently a fairly popular racket on cruise ships(generally supplied by Wireless Maritime Services; exciting roaming rates vary by carrier). I’d assume that aircraft would be at least as bad; quite possibly worse.

Hardly unreasonable for something that takes a hop via satellite to cost more; but I suspect that the bill would be padded well beyond that.


Pretty much what I was gonna say.