Phone usage on airplanes

So, apparently, the Federal Communications Commission is considering allowing passengers to use their phones during flights. This is pretty odd, considering how strict they are right now about that stuff. And although it is a pretty cool idea, the only thing more annoying on a plane than a crying baby would be listening to your neighbor’s phone conversation. Being on an airplane is one of the few times of our lives these days that we are totally disconnected from the rest of society and by allowing phone usage throughout the flight, that will obviously change. It does make you think, though, what has changed on planes that allow us now to use our phones? I’m not sure how I feel about this, but it is definitely interesting that they are thinking about loosening the rules. 

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2 Responses to Phone usage on airplanes

  1. Hannah says:

    From a few other articles I’ve read about this, I don’t think that any aspect of airplane technology has changed – it seems that the capability for in-flight cell phone use has always been there, but the FCC has just been slow to update the rules. Apparently the FCC considered loosening them in 2007, but the proposal failed due to opposition from flight attendants and other groups who thought it would be a distraction.

    This must just be a response to the huge role of cell phones in our culture now. I agree with your points that flying is one of the few experiences in the modern world in which you are basically cut off from communicating with anyone not in your immediate vicinity. (Maybe that’s a good thing.)

    I would be really curious to see how this plays out, if indeed the new proposal is considered and the rules regarding in-flight cell phone use are revised. There are a lot of questions here. It’s at the airline’s discretion whether or not they choose to allow phone use in-flight, so would it be more profitable for the airline to allow the convenience of cell phone use, or to respect their customer’s space, privacy, and quiet time by not endorsing the new rules?

    Structurally, how would revised rules impact the layout of the airplane? Trains used to have quiet cars…will planes now have quiet cabins? Culturally, I also wonder if people would wholeheartedly take to the new rules and use their cell phones, or if respect for other passengers would kind of shame people into not using their phones. Really interesting food for thought.

  2. celineni says:

    This is very interesting discussion because I was actually just on a flight home and I found out about the new FCC proposal from our flight attendant. I was shocked because flight attendants have always been so strict about the usage of cell phones on board, especially before and after take off.

    I wonder if there will be special restrictions during take off and landing. I would only assume so to focus all attention to the present and what’s going on rather than typing away on our phones or chatting on the phone, not only distracting others but taking away from paying attention to important information such as going over emergency procedures.

    On a larger scale, this gives society more access to our privacy than ever. For example, business travelers are already glued to their phones 24/7 and flight time is one of the rare moments that they have to be disconnected. By eliminating this from them, companies will take full advantage of this available time. Therefore as a society, becoming less sensitive to the personal space and time people need to gather themselves.

    Maybe as someone who has lived in a world where phones are a taboo on flight, I am a bit of a pessimist and stuck in the old ways. This could be a very positive opportunity, I don’t doubt. However this makes me question how our society will unfold in time. Will it turn into a cultural expectation to be ‘connected’ at all times of the day? Today, I already am starting to feel a little anxious about how connected we’re supposed to be with email, calling, texting, social media, etc.

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