Friday, 18 April 2008

"I'm on the Plane!"

In a scary development for people already crammed in like sardines alongside their fellow airline passengers, the European Union has agreed to standards for mobile phone use during flights, according to this story in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Yes, that's right, the standards will allow text messaging, email, and... voice calls. This last item is likely to be the cause of much anguish. As mentioned earlier in this blog, planes the size of 737s are already tiny.

If you're sitting on the right hand of most passengers, their raised phones (and voices) will be some 30cm from your left ear, not to mention where their right elbow will be. Intruding into your airspace, presumably.

The enabling of voice calls on aircraft will probably prove to be a grave mistake. Then again, who knows, perhaps flying has become so horrible in the 21st century that the airlines figure we can't get more pissed off.

And here's another thought: even on airlines that allow text messaging only, how annoying is that "BEEP-BEEP" message alert every two seconds of the flight going to be?

I've actually canvassed this issue before, in a freelance article I wrote a few years ago on mobile phone etiquette. I surveyed a number of acquaintances by email, asking their opinions on mobile phone use in various situations. Here's what they had to say about the possible uses of mobiles on flights:

Claire: “OK for calls that are not too personal. If you’re getting those medical test results, wait till you’re off the plane.”

Melissa: “If you can't survive without your phone for a couple of hours, you have a problem. Give people time to miss you!”

Trevor: “Maybe the ease of eavesdropping will be better.”

Lucy: “Aren't plane trips bad enough already?”

Lyn: “You won’t be able to sleep if the passenger beside you is a phone-aholic.”

Stella: “Can you imagine how terribly annoying this would be?”

Jamie: “Oh please don't lift the ban! I don't need any more distractions on planes.”

Jo: “Maybe it’s the final straw that will release the air rage in all of us?”

Ben: “It’s bad enough being stuck in a tin projectile with other people, without them yelling "I'M ON A PLANE! YEAH NO, THE PLANE I CAUGHT BEFORE! A PLANE!”

Janet: “Oh, dear God! Isn't there enough air rage already?”

I think we have a consensus. Want to add any thoughts?