“Please Turn Cellphones Off”

Ever since I can remember, every time we get on flights, the flight attendants have asked us to turn off our cell phones shortly before takeoff. However, I’ve always just accepted this as fact, and never thought very far into it. Recently,  the recommendation was taken back because now people believe that it doesn’t affect the flight and it’s radar.

The reason that this is a rule is because of speculation that cell phones interfere with the plane is because of electromagnetic interference. This has long been based on anecdotes from different aviation companies– for example: that there was an issue with the flight radar when a flight attendant saw a passenger with a cell phone, or that a video game was in use and the radar shifted 30 degrees.

However, because not one specific event has happened proving that cell phones interfere, the Federal Aviation Administration as of recent, allows for usage in flights. So, soon enough you’ll be seeing implementations of cell phone usage on flights.

What I found interesting is that we started believing all of this without even having any concrete data on whether cell phones affect flight systems. One reason could be is because planes are kind of risky in and of themselves, so it would be giving up just a few hours on your cell phone to avoid a speculated risk. This brings up this issue of whether something should be given up over a little speculation– like the opportunity cost of turning off the TV to avoid the risk of depression. Studies for this type of thing are kind of hard because no one really wants to experiment with a flight because each holds the lives of many people. Possibly in a simulated flight or a drone?

It is hard to make such a hard rule like the one that was followed for so many years which was never based on any real data. Therefore, it’s interesting to see the ban on phones be lifted by the FAA so that we can use our phones in peace– unless some real information comes out someday against it.


3 thoughts on ““Please Turn Cellphones Off”

  1. Katherine Jane Ballantyne Post author

    Jenna, I agree! From what I believe, the FAA will allow it but will place the phone call debate into the hands of the Federal Communications Commission. If the cell phones don’t interfere, I think that it should be up to the airlines to decide when they will allow it. I would definitely not want to fly on an airline that allows phone calls.. think about all of the business people who would be able to be on conference calls and such while flying.. that’s like a bunch of crying babies.

  2. Jenna Rae Stoklosa

    In this article I found, they discuss how cell phones probably don’t affect the flight of the plane and radar, but they are still in debate as to whether allow on flight calls. If cell phones were allowed to be fully used on an airplane, you know that there would always be at least one person on the phone the entire time and disrupting other people. I think that cell phones should be allowed to be used, but not for calls. Texting and wireless use should be allowed, but I could see phone calls becoming annoying and disrupting to the other passengers and crew on the flight.


  3. Olivia Diane Talbot

    After reading this article, i just realized recently i haven’t been asked to turn my phone off the past few times I’ve flown. Ive been asked to simply turn it to airplane mode. What is the airplane mode anyway? (actually might be my next topic thinking about it), and how does it differentiate from turning our phones completely off? All I’m saying is that the next big thing, will be full on wifi no matter how high up in the air you are.
    Just found the definition of airplane mode!

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