Should Cell Phone Use Be Allowed on Airplanes?

The discussion of cell phones on airplanes has been going on for a while now. What I find interesting is that the only real argument I hear against allowing cell phone use on planes has NOTHING to do with technology or federal regulations; it has to do with behavior. I find it odd that this debate only seems to center around one emotionally charged reason. Most people I know oppose allowing cell phone use on planes for only one reason: “I don’t want to be sitting next to that self-important sumbitch who has to talk loud into his phone the entire flight!”

Granted, *other people* sure can be annoying with cell phones. I can remember one flight I took to Norfolk from Philly. As we were boarding the plane, one woman a couple of rows back from me started making calls, apparently to people whom she would be seeing in Norfolk. Three phone calls were centered around the endless repetition of “No, we’re on the plane. Yes, we’re on the plane. We’re on the plane! No, we’re sitting on the plane right now!” Seriously, that’s all she kept saying as she went through three phone calls. Would you really want to spend time with somebody too stupid to comprehend that you’re on the plane right now? But is that really a good enough reason to continue to ban the use of cell phones in flight? I’ve never seen any actual proof that the use of cell phones or “portable electronic devices” actually causes any problems with aircraft communication devices. I remember back in the early 80’s when my family flew on an Air Force C-5 from Ramstein to Dover that I couldn’t use my first generation Sony Walkman at all because it would “screw with the plane’s communications and navigation systems.” The Mythbusters set out to test this, but could only test on ground as the FAA wouldn’t relax the laws for one TV show. Their on-ground tests with a variety of cell phones showed no interference with the plane’s instrumentation.

Personally, I wouldn’t mind being able to use my phone, at least, it would be nice to use my data connection inflight. I can’t think of many calls that can’t wait until I get on the ground, but it sure would be nice to have Internet access while flying.

What about you? Can you think of any reason beside “I don’t want to sit next to the sumbitch talking on his phone!” why allowing cell phone use in flight would be a bad idea that should continue to be outlawed?

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