mobile telephone Apple iPhone 7
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Do Not Talk on the Telephone After Airplane Doors Closed — Otherwise…

“I was on Ua 922 today. Door closed, safety briefing…. FA walks down aisle to check belts. Tells a passenger to shut his phone off. Didn’t hear his exact response but sounded like he says he’s not really talking on it or something. She says ‘excuse me?’ Heads to cockpit. Door opens. Plane door opens. Pilot says we have to take care of a matter. Ground agents come on and ask man to deplane, which he does without a fuss. First time I’ve seen this…. And I’ve seen worse abusers of phones later in takeoff process than this…”

Stupid Tip of the Day: Do Not Talk on the Telephone After Airplane Doors Closed — Otherwise…

What you just read was this experience which was imparted by FlyerTalk member 1k-all-the-way pertaining to yet another controversial discussion as to whether or not telephone calls should be allowed aboard airplanes — so controversial that the aforementioned discussion on FlyerTalk was closed at the time this article was written.

The Advisory Committee for Aviation Consumer Protection of the Department of Transportation of the United States reportedly approved a recommendation on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 that — if safe and secure — commercial airlines should be able to decide whether passengers can place telephone calls during flights.

This issue was revisited by me in this article posted on Friday, January 31, 2014 where I asked “Are you in favor of passengers being permitted to place telephone calls during flights — or are you against it?”

According to this poll which was posted on FlyerTalk, the statistics as of the time this article was posted — yes, that poll is still open after greater than five years — consisted of the following:

  • 89.05 percent of FlyerTalk members are opposed to the usage of cellular telephones during a flight
  • 10.95 percent of FlyerTalk members are in favor of the usage of cellular telephones during a flight
Mobile Telephone Charging Cropped
Photograph ©2013 by Brian Cohen.

FlyerTalk members between the ages of 36 and 55 years old were the vocal majority both for and against the usage of cellular telephones during a flight — which leads to the question: could it depend on your age as to whether or not you are in favor of allowing the use of cellular telephones during flights?

“The airplane is one place where we can be away from inconsiderate loud talkers who think they have important things to say. we don’t need more self absorbed people who think they are special. There is a reason for the phone booth back in the day – a place where you can have a phone call and hear the other person and wouldn’t disturb others.”

Derek — who is a reader of The Gate — posted the comment you just read in response to this article where I asked whether or not you support passengers placing telephone calls during flights.

The Department of Transportation of the United States announced its proposal on Thursday, December 8, 2016 to require airlines and ticket agents to disclose in advance — that is, prior to the purchase of an airline ticket at the first time that the flight is offered or identified — to consumers if the carrier operating their flight allows passengers to place voice telephone calls using mobile wireless electronic devices, as allowing voice calls without providing adequate notice could be considered unfair and deceptive.

Possible Solutions Looking For a Problem?

Photograph ©2015 by Brian Cohen.

I have said in past articles that I would support the used of “texting” using a mobile telephone or tablet. I might even relent and say that telephone calls can be permitted during a flight for a fee bordering on exorbitant to discourage passengers from engaging in long conversations — or that telephone calls should be permitted in the event of an emergency. However, the last thing that I want during a flight is to hear a one-sided conversation about some business transaction loudly announced by some buffoon who has no respect or consideration for the peace and quiet of his or her fellow passengers — especially if I am attempting to relax after a long day; or if I did not get enough sleep the night before; or if I had experienced some horrific delays.

You may as well seat me next to a crying baby. It can be that irritating.

The volume of a conversation aboard an airplane may not always be due to the arrogance of a person. There can be a significant amount of ambient noise aboard an airplane during a flight — primarily emanating from the engines or propellors — which can cause a person to speak louder than normal. This may especially be true if the person does not hear well…

…and what about during announcements by members of the flight crew aboard an airplane during a flight? Will those passengers in the middle of their calls be forced to place their calls temporarily on hold or hang up?

possible compromise which I had proposed is to designate a specific area of the aircraft where passengers may use cellular telephones to place calls during a flight — and possibly have the airlines charge an ancillary fee. Those passengers would not be denied the opportunity to place telephone calls; other passengers would not have to deal with any potential etiquette and rudeness issues; and the airline can actually profit in the process.


Ryanair airplane at gate passengers
Photograph ©2014 by Brian Cohen.

I am not one of those people who has a mobile telephone glued to his ear or hand 24 hours per day; and I really have no interest in overhearing the conversation of someone else who speaks loudly…

…but some people would argue that their telephone calls are important and they should be able to talk anytime they want — including aboard an airplane.

Until that happens — if that ever happens — refusing the directive of a member of the flight crew to end a telephone call while seated aboard an airplane will likely result in the offender being removed from the airplane. It may even result in incarceration if the situation escalates significantly enough.

In other words, do not talk on a telephone aboard an airplane unless permitted to do so — either prior to taking off on the runway or after the aircraft has landed safely.

All photographs ©2013, ©2014, ©2015 and ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

  1. Can we also ban loud talkers? Especially on night flights. I am always astonished when flight attendants ignore this. Cabin lights dim, everyone trying to sleep except a couple of people who want to stay up chatting. How hard would it be to ask them to hush if they are too obtuse or drunk to do the courteous thing to begin with.

    And as an addendum in case it wasn’t clear, no, I do not want people talking on their cell phones on planes. I find it obnoxious as hell when people talk as they are boarding and sitting in the cabin before take off. They never adjust their volume for the enclosed space. Also -shakes fist at kids- get off my lawn!! 🙂

    1. I cannot argue with you on what you wrote, Lara S. — although lawns are way overrated as they are a pain in the grass to maintain, in my opinion…

      …but I will stay off of it anyway, even though I am a kid at heart…

  2. Anyone can annoy anyone that is annoyable. Also you don’t have to be on a cellphone to talk loudly and to be obnoxious. Most people that speak on their cellphones do it reasonably. This is I think the only country that bans cellphone usage on planes. When you fly with Virgin Atlantic and British Airways between the US and UK you can use VOIP in fact Verizon even has its own inflight service for making calls. There should never be legislation to regulate the way that people do things to annoy other people. The last FAA reauthorization made it illegal to use a cellphone even using VOIP and I believe this was outreach. The usage in question for which he got into trouble was for something else, which IS related to safety, which is using the cellphone over the cellular network before and potentially during takeoff. There are several reasons why you might want to use a cellphone while in the air, for example if you need to tell someone about a delay and need them to do something for you, where trying to text it would be too longwinded. Also many companies have conference calls where you really only need to listen. There would be no harm in those types of calls taking place. I really don’t believe that the majority of people are against cellphone usage in planes. I think the majority of flight attendants are against it and think it’s their voices that are being heard in these polls.

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