Terror in the skies: Using cellphones on planes might become a reality
Published 6:19 pm, Friday, January 6, 2017
We have pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact that cellphones are a way of life.
How big a way varies. To some, the cellphone is just a portable phone. To others, the device is as vital as an internal organ. You can live without a kidney, but is life even worth living without a cellphone attached to your ear?
As cellphones have become ubiquitous, most of us have adjusted. We have come to understand that having a loud personal conversation in a public place is bad manners. We have come to understand that people carrying on seemingly one-way conversations are not talking to the voices in their head — usually.
We have come to understand that the driver weaving in traffic is not on booze, but on a cellphone, although this is a distinction without a difference. And we have come to understand that no matter how interesting a dinner companion we may be, we will never receive the same degree of attention as the charming iPhone sitting on the table between us.
What we are not willing to understand, or accept, or tolerate, or excuse, or endure — and I believe I speak for the entire human race here — is passengers being allowed to talk on cellphones during flights.
Yet, that is exactly what the U.S. Department of Transportation is seriously thinking about doing.
Currently, the FCC prohibits passengers from making in-flight calls. However, the FCC ban does not cover Wi-Fi calls, which airlines could enable their planes to provide if they choose.
Let us pause here to review the on-board experience for those of us who fly steerage class.
We have no elbow, shoulder, seat or even wiggle room.
We have no leg room.
We have no food.
We have no assurance when we get on a plane or when we will get off the plane.
And to this the DOT wants to add cellphone conversations.
Imagine your next flight.
You have finally found a place to cram your carry-on luggage and winter coat, squeezed into your seat, resolved the armrest territory issue and settled in when:
The business traveler in front of you is reclining his seat and engaging in a fascinating call about widgets.
The preteen girl two rows back is squealing over what Asher said to Mia in study hall.
The woman across the aisle is dictating a grocery list to her husband.
The hearing-challenged grandmother next to you is shouting into her phone, which is in “speaker” mode.
If the DOT is not dissuaded by the public comments it is seeking, this could actually happen.
But even if the public reaction is overwhelmingly negative, as it has been for similar proposals in the past, the DOT still sees a way forward. It proposes, and I’m not making this up, airlines simply inform passengers in advance if cellphone calls will be allowed on their flight so they can make other arrangements.
So, in addition to booking a flight at the right time, at the right place, at the right cost, etc., the DOT would add searching for planes that allow or don’t allow unfettered cellphone yakking.
This rationale, this entire proposal, is just too stupid to live.
Nothing like a good rant to clear the sinuses.
Jim Shea is a lifelong Connecticut resident and journalist who believes the keys to life include the avoidance of physical labor and I-95. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @jimboshea.