Are cell phones on airplanes a good idea?

Read the other day that the Federal Communications Commission is working on a plan to let people use their cell phones on passenger airline flights.


The only reason I go on flights is to get away from people with their cell phones. It was the last place left on earth where a person could be removed from exposure to teenagers, and for that matter their grandparents, awkwardly sexting each other. Where you didn’t have to listen to thugs working out the details of their next drug deal, stockbrokers dealing out bad advice to greedy clients, wannabe pop stars singing along to horrid lyrics or just plain conversations that have no reason to happen.

“I ain’t doin’ nothing. What you doin’? Nothing? You? No, still nothing. You doing anything? What are you wearing? What am I wearing? No, what are you wearing? You hang up first. No I don’t want to hang up first. You hang up. No you. You. You. You. … No, I ain’t doin’ nothing. What you doin’?”

I’ve always been told that there was concern that phones and other electronic devices could jam the sensitive instruments the pilots rely on to fly the plane. Apparently the airlines have finally realized the pilots are likely too intoxicated to see the gauges anyway, so luckily, no worries there.

Of course, there may be just a brief pang of concern that the people on either side of you yammering away on iPhones may not be paying full iAttention to those vital stewperson instructions being droned with accompanying jazz hands movements.

So the slackers will not know when their airplane is plummeting 33,000 feet straight down at the speed of light in a blazing explosive fireball into the middle of the shark-infested Atlantic Ocean that they need only tug their floatation device seat cushion free to be just fine. It won’t matter anyway, since they couldn’t take the phone away from their mouths long enough to get the air mask on.

You think crack is an addiction? Cell phone addiction is making everything else pale by comparison. My kids will sit nest to each other on a sofa, and text their conversation.

Say it isn’t so, FCC! Let us travel cell free, I beg of you.

I can’t even stand going to a public restroom and having to listen to people’s goofy conversations for those 90 seconds. If I’m trapped in a skinny fuselage with 78 people packed around me like sardines all babbling away at once, the plane won’t have to crash. I will gladly pry open the door and hurl myself out.

I know, I know, the cell phone is the adult version of a pacifier. If people have to go more than a minute without being able to stare at it, they begin to twitch and get withdrawal symptoms. It’s physically impossible now for people to get through a movie, a job interview or for all I know a delicate heart surgery without pulling out the old Samsung for a fix. “Honey, I know the minister is in the midst of our wedding vows, but I just have to check my Facebook for a sec. Hate to miss those Grumpy Cat posts. Oh, and I better check the Hawkeye score. And my online dating site. … Honey, where are you going??”

Asking people to go for a two-hour flight without autodialing their hairdresser, bartender, car detailer, long lost cousin Sal in prison, the girl who stood them up at the prom 35 years ago, the guys at the bait shop, or the catsitter – why, it’s unAmerican.

And yes, by the way, it has occurred to me that while it has been unsafe to use your cell phone on the plane for free, it has been perfectly fine for years to make a call on those seatback phones that the airlines charge $85 a nanosecond for. Hmmm.

Anyway, next time I fly, and people start chattering on their phones, I’m pulling out a my stowaway bag full of bubble-wrap and bongo drums. Just try to talk to your cat now. I dare you.

Dana Larsen is editor of the Pilot-Tribune in Storm Lake and a former staff writer at The Messenger.