Show Your Importance, Your Power … Talk, Text Coast to Coast
“Honey, you’d be surprised at what a man can do with one hand.” – Rick, “Snakes on a Plane,” New Line Cinema, 2006
O.K., I admit it … I have (once or twice) forgotten and left my smartphone on during take-off, the duration of the flight and landing. It usually gets stashed in the overhead with my backpack. I put my ultrabook in the seat pocket, so the moment the attendants give the word, I can whip it out and get some work done … watch a video … or play some mind-numbing game. I don’t feel deprived that I can’t make/receive calls or send/receive texts during that time. After all, once we leave the plane, all of the stuff that couldn’t get through to my device will download and voicemail will chime in. It all demands to be handled … now! I’ve always been somewhat amused when people sitting in their ultra-narrow seat with zero knee room give the flight attendant a dirty look when they’re told to shut their device down. The call/text was that important?
Really? Still, everyone agrees it was a stupid rule that outlived its usefulness years ago. Now you don’t have to feel cut off from the world around you since the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) wants to lift the device restriction and airlines are letting you continue to use all your devices … no matter what. But the DOT (Department of Transportation) says “Nope…no calls.” But as Neville Flynn said, “Well, I’m stuck in the middle of one we didn’t think of.” Actually, I’d be interested in more attendant announcements, especially those like the CollegeHumor video on YouTube (you know you’ll go look). She made it crystal clear why you can’t use your devices on the plane during take-off/landing. I always thought they should have played that instead of having the attendant make the announcement … then folks would actually listen. But if you’re looking for pre-flight instructions people actually listen to, fly Virgin America … or, check their safety video on YouTube. Actually, you’ll probably want to get up and dance along; or at tap your foot … but you will pay attention. Of course now that they’re toying with lifting the phone call restrictions, you’ll probably worry about the self-indulgent idiot who struggles into his middle seat and then whips out his phone. Then he’ll tell the person on the other end of the call (and half the plane) that he/she is on his/her smartphone and on the plane.
Room to Talk – The airlines aren’t giving you any more room on the plane, but the FAA did make it possible for you to talk/text on your next flight so you can tell all your friends how big the person in the seat next to you is … well, maybe you better text those comments. Sure, that will happen; but when it does, you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that he/she will get a nice bump in the good old’ mobile bill that month. I just had a fantastic idea on how to embarrass the **** out of the jerk/jerkett. He/she is blithely talking away so the rest of the plane gets up as an impromptu flash mob. You know, serenade the person on the other end. You can bet a wide, comfortable seat with tons of leg room he/she won’t do that again! Even though you can call, I still think airplane mode is the way to go. You can’t place/receive calls; but jeezz, give it a rest! That’s when Claire Miller chimed in, “I love it when you demean me, Rick.’ You can still use all the other functions including games, camera, MP3 player. If you have to give a blow-by-blow of your flight, you can still write your texts and “send.” If you don’t want to pay the aerial Wi-Fi fee; as soon as you land, the phone will connect to your network and BAM! your messages will flood out to everyone.
Really, who’ll know the difference? For years, no one thought your phone would cripple the plane or bring it down. It’s just a carry-over from the bi-plane days. The folks up front (in the cockpit) have been using tablets for some time instead of leafing through binders and following roadmaps. Probably slipped in a few phone calls to. Neville Flynn saw the change and said, “See, things are looking up already.” Nearly every airline has developed and deployed mobile apps for flight crews for take-off, landing and everything in between … paper navigation charts, manuals are so yesterday. The devices are right next to the instruments and no one has reported any problems with flight navigation or systems. They aren’t the only one buying/using these things either. According to Gartner, nearly three billion devices will be sold this year; and as you walk any plane’s aisle, you’ll see them in heavy use during the flight … people are reading, playing games, watching movies, playing games, doing expense reports and playing games.
Work, Play – Now that the FAA/FCC are talking about lifting the restrictions for using your phone during takeoff/landing, you can use your full arsenal of computing, communications, entertainment devices because well … you’re important. For those desperate to be constantly connected there’s Gogo. But, as Dr. Steven Price said, “Make it fast. Time is tissue.” More than 6,000 planes are equipped with Gogo’s in-flight Wi-Fi service that uses a network of ground stations that deliver reasonable data transmission rates as you fly overhead for a reasonable fee. They recently introduced Gogo GTO (ground to orbit) which provides faster satellite linkups between the airplane’s Wi-Fi system and your carrier. Airlines like it because it’s another source of income along with your baggage fee, aisle seat fee, leg room fee, snack/lunch/drink fee, seat cushion fee, seatbelt fee, restroom fee (sorry didn’t mean to give management more profit ideas). But Gogo doesn’t cost that much ($5-$15) and I have to admit, it lets you clean out your email while you’re traveling, rather than waiting to get to your room to delete, answer, delete, delete, delete, answer, delete… There’s still that issue of stowing your laptop/tablet in the seat pocket during take-off and landing.
Shut It Down – While more and more airlines allow you to keep your smartphone on and in use–even during take-off and landing, you’ll still have to put away your computer and tablet for a few minutes. It’s just common sense that these devices can be deadly missiles if the plane experiences problems and the device goes flying through the air. Laptops and tablets can be dangerous projectiles if the pilot makes a rough landing, suddenly brakes or abruptly aborts the takeoff…I don’t care how light it is. So, put the time spent sitting at the gate waiting to leave, taking off and landing to good use. Have you ever seriously leafed through the SkyMall catalog on a plane? There’s some really cool stuff I didn’t even know existed … it’s a gold mine of stuff! Or just sit back and decompress … couldn’t hurt. Need to keep your mind active? Worry about what your healthcare program is going to be like or what all the security people are doing while you’re not communicating or who just bought the rights to your latest web posting. Or be like Sean Jones, just kicking back, relaxing and saying to himself, “Never flown first class before.”