Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Turn Off The Darned Phones When You're Told To

I get driven nuts by kids and their phones.  How can anyone lack the self-discipline to disconnect for a short period of time?

Yes, I think the rule requiring electronics to be turned off during take-off and landing is a silly rule, but it must be followed until it's changed.  I'm having a hard time having sympathy for the kids here:
The dispute surrounding a student vacation flight from New York to Atlanta is getting uglier.

One hundred one students and eight chaperones were kicked off an early morning AirTran flight before its scheduled departure Monday. The controversy now pits the airline against an Orthodox Jewish high school.

"We take this matter seriously and have started our own investigation," said a statement released Tuesday by Rabbi Seth Linfield, executive director of the Yeshiva of Flatbush school. "Preliminarily, it does not appear that the action taken by the flight crew was justified."

From the airline's perspective, it sounds like a large-scale version of the parental "don't-make-me-turn-this-car-around" scenario.

Southwest, which owns AirTran, said the group of "non-compliant passengers" would not stay seated, and some were using their mobile devices after being asked not to. When the students failed to comply with requests from the flight crew, including the captain, they were asked to leave the plane, delaying the AirTran flight for 45 minutes, said Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins.
Sometimes in the real world, boys and girls, you don't get warning after repeated warning with no consequences.  Sometimes you're required to do what you're told, or else.  You have now encountered one of those times. 

Related story:  a couple weekends ago I flew to Las Vegas, and a 20-something woman sat in the middle seat between me and my traveling companion.  After the announcement to turn off all electronics, a flight attendant told her specifically that she had to turn the phone off.  She was startled a few moments later when a second flight attendant came from behind us, saw her using it, and told her to turn it off.  She blanked the screen but anyone with a phone knows you have to push the button longer than half a second to power off.  A few moments later she looked around to ensure no flight attendants were around, then she went back to her texting.

I spoke to her in somewhat condescending terms, but honestly, she was too dumb to know I was being condescending.  She tried to justify to me why she needed to coordinate with her friends, so many of whom were converging on Las Vegas by many different modes of transportation.  About the time we were forced back into our seats by the acceleration of take-off, she shut her phone down.

It came on again during our approach to McCarran.  I couldn't believe it.

The world apparently revolves around some people.


Scott Mccall said...

I've nitpicked people on planes before. I've had one business man say "there's no evidence that ....*bla bla bla*". I pulled out my pilot's certificate and said "i fly in the same weather conditions these airlines do. my student received a text during flight and our instruments went haywire while we were only 300ft off the ground, it almost killed us. don't be ignorant, turn it off.

i don't see why it's so hard to just turn the damn things off. ya, one phone may not cause a problem. but a plane with 50 people sending and receiving messages? then you do encounter a problem. instruments WILL have problems. I've had it happen to me.

Darren said...

Scott, pilots are issued iPads. Don't tell me I can't read my Kindle.

Ellen K said...

I had an epiphany of sorts in this regard. You might want to read it. http://www.blogger.com/blogger.g?blogID=22306664#editor/target=post;postID=3378922271242901390;onPublishedMenu=allposts;onClosedMenu=allposts;postNum=0;src=postname

Scott McCall said...

Your kindle argument is like saying "cops can carry guns, so can I".

pilots are issued ipads after they've proposed a strict usage operating procedure to the FAA for approval. They can't just bring an ipad on board and say "lets take off". They are still bound by the FAA that they can't have electronic devices under 10,000ft. But each airline can seek special approval for specific devices as long as they use it in a strict manner. This process takes about a year. Because of this approval process, its different than you just taking your kindle on board to read.

The purpose for the regulation is to govern all devices so some smart ass doesnt bring the new electronic awesome thing thats hip these days and say "the rules don't apply to this". LIke e-cigs. Used to be "no tobacco products" on an aircraft, then e-cigs came out which don't have tobacco. So they changed the rules to no nicotine products, but some e-cigs don't have nicotine. so they settled on no smoking in general to cover everything.

Yes, some devices can actually be used and not cause a hazard to flying. but they say "all electronic devices" so there is no question about what is and what isn't approved, and then don't have to make certain exceptions for different devices. the iPads in the cockpit applies to one specific product, with specific applications, under specific configurations, to be used at specific phases of flight, with specific backup procedures, and under specific usage guidelines. Passengers are not bound to the same "exceptions" as the pilots. We're trained on what is and is not hazardous to aircraft. You, are not. You can't make the choice on what is and what isn't safe for flight at low altitudes. It's easier to say "no electronic devices whatsoever" than "only these specific items. oh he has an ipad with 3G? then no. oh he has a laptop with a cellular system built in? must remain off. oh he has a skype phone to use our wifi to talk in flight? keep it off during takeoff and landing. you have a kindle? that's fine. you have a kindle that streams music from pandora? off below 10,000ft." So many exceptions that can be made, it's easier to say no to them all.

Darren said...

There's a reason for "airplane mode". There's no good reason to require them to be turned off.

Scott McCall said...

Agreed. But, again, not all devices have "airplane mode", so it is easier to just required "all electronic devices must be off" to eliminate any "what if" scenarios. Some people aren't really wise with their phones, and dont know how to turn airplane mode on (my wife for example). some people think just silencing their phone is airplane mode. some people think turning off wifi is airplane mode. what if my device doesn't have airplane mode? what if my tablet device has just wifi, bluetooth, and gigabit? i don't need airplane mode, right? no, it needs to be turned off entirely. all. antennas. off.

you of all people know to just follow the rules regulations and laws, whether you like them or not.

Darren said...

Scott, perhaps you should have reread my post--specifically, the first sentence of the second paragraph--before you posted your stupid last sentence.

I've been asked to turn a camera off on takeoff. No antenna there. Just mindlessly following a STUPID RULE. I obeyed, but that doesn't make it any less of a STUPID RULE.

Scott McCall said...

some cameras have antennas. i used to own a digital camera capable of wifi uploading. i've seen some with cellular uploading, and now you can put an SD card which does wireless uploading over your phone, cellular network, or wifi.

again, you never know what device has what upgrades which may pose a hazard.

as a pilot, i hope the rule never changes. i wouldn't want 100 people in the back of my aircraft, playing around on their wireless devices which (when combined) can create enough interference to play with our extremely sensitive antennas. when i'm only 200ft off the ground in denver with 0 visibility outside, all we rely on is our instruments. the slightest interference can result in fatalities. one device? no it wont really create a problem. one device for every passenger? ya, that's sure to cause interference.

the faa may look into changing this rule all they want, they wont change it cause airlines are strict on the 'no electronics' policy as they have many pilot reports of the flight crew reporting antenna interference, the same time a stewardess was dealing with a passenger who refused to put his/her cell phone away. does it happen all the time? no. but it DOES HAPPEN. I deal with it all the time.

that's why this "stupid rule" will never change.