Despite the fact that more than half of us say we’d prefer to keep cell-phone calls banned during flights, the FCC is likely to announce next week that it will lift its 22-year prohibition on allowing passengers to use cell phones in-flight. Should they? When I posted this question on my Facebook page, you all joined the chorus of the opposed, unofficially led by motivation speaker Tony Robbins, who recently tweeted: “Do we really need this?” For instance, here’s some of your ire:
- “I can’t imagine anything worse than this on a plane. It’s bad enough on the city bus.”
- “Remember when they had analog air-to-ground phones on airplanes? I have a flight attendant friend who said that one of the biggest complaints back then was loud talkers on those phones. Do we really want to go back to the bad old days?”
But here’s the rub, folks. Though most of us say we don’t want to listen to our seatmates yammer on and on, we do say we want to be able to text (63 percent said yes to texting, while only 22 percent said no). Unfortunately, we can’t have it both ways: The technology that allows for texting also allows for phone calls. So what to do? Here are some ideas that came to my mind. Let me know which of these you like (or don’t like) in the comment section below, and feel free to add your own ideas:
- Ask the airlines to create a “quiet zone” similar to the “quiet cars” on trains.
- Forbid calls longer than three minutes.
- Give flight attendants a disconnect switch for disruptive passengers.
- Have the airlines distribute free headphones to all passengers requesting them.
- Build cell-phone booths onboard (like our now-obsolete phone booths).
- Just say no to phone calls and texting.
Every Wednesday, Steven Petrow, the author of five etiquette books and the forthcoming “Mind Your Digital Manners,” addresses questions about digital etiquette. Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stevenpetrow. Or Twitter: www.twitter.com/stevenpetrow.