There has been at least one person who refused to turn his or her phone off during takeoff and landing on every single flight I’ve been on in the last few months. Every. Single. One.
The more that I see people hiding their phones as the flight attendants walk through to do their final checks before the plane takes off or lands, the angrier I get. Have we really reached a point that we cannot separate ourselves from technology for a total of about twenty minutes?
Yes, I admit that I always have my iPod and headphones in my hand and turn on my music the second that we reach an appropriate altitude for electronics (that would be 10,000 feet for those of you who do not fly often). As soon as I hear the little ding dong from the cockpit that lets the flight attendants know they can make the announcement about using electronics, I put in my ear buds and press play. Because, let’s face it, most flights are full of the chatter of people talking and babies crying. And I’m usually tired when I fly.
But in all honesty, I could very easily go through a flight without depending on my cell phone or laptop if I had to. Unfortunately, I’m not sure that is such a universal feeling anymore and now, thanks to the Federal Aviation Administration’s new guidelines on electronics, technology will soon be even more prevalent on planes.
The FAA announced today that passengers can use iPods, iPads, e-readers, and cell phones (in airplane mode) throughout the entire duration of a flight. These changes will not completely go into effect, however, until airline’s can prove that their airplanes have the proper interference resistance in place so that these electronics will not interfere with navigational equipment. Most modern planes that can handle Wifi capabilities should have no trouble meeting the new requirements.
I’m sure this change has many passengers breathing sighs of relief and many flight attendants feeling happy that they will soon no longer have to regulate these rules so strictly, but I still feel that airplanes perfectly embody just how much we rely on technology.
I was on a flight last night from Las Vegas to Tucson, which is only about an hour and five minutes from gate to gate, where the flight attendants had to make an announcement as we were landing that they could see the glow of someone’s cell phone or tablet on the ceiling and to remind everyone that all electronics had to be completely shut off. Are we really at a point where we cannot be separated from our phones for any length of time?
Even I will admit that it will be nice to be able to listen to music while everyone is shuffling on board and trying to get their suitcases inside the overhead compartments and continue to listen to it while we take off so I can zone out for the duration of the flight. After seeing the way that people act when they are told to turn off their electronics, however, I kind of miss the days when people read real books or magazines on planes and brought travel versions of their favorite games.
To pay personal homage to technology-free years gone by, I am going to make a conscious effort to put down my phone, shut off my laptop, and stop relying so much on music. It might be hard, but it was not that long ago that people actually had to make a phone call to talk to someone or pull out a game board to play a game with friends. Technology is awesome, but, from what I remember of it, actual interaction is pretty awesome as well.