|by Valerie Rains||Airfares & Flying, Airlines, Airport Check-in, Cell Phones and PDAs||63|
It seems like there's one on every flight: The passenger who has to be told—and told again and again—to turn off his electronic devices for takeoff. As if they've never had to turn them off before. As if the whole thing is a big surprise. As if they're not actually in a hurry to get anywhere, even though the interior of an airplane might be the place most full of people-in-a-hurry-to-get-somewhere that could possibly exist. (Just wait to see how everyone scrambles to be the first one off at landing!) And yet, time after time, someone needs a reminder (Alec Baldwin, for instance).
There's certainly plenty of skepticism around the actual dangers involved in using electronic devices during landing and takeoff—specifically, whether there indeed are any. But we've lived with the restriction for so long that to see someone openly flouting the rule—not just taking their sweet time complying—seems as shocking as watching a passenger light up a cigarette in the aisle. It just isn't done.
I recently spent the entirety of a 3.5-hour flight fighting off mild terror after the woman in the seat next to me missed a cell phone call during takeoff—even the ringer was still on!—and then proceeded not to turn off her phone and stash it in her bag like I had assumed she would, but instead to return the phone call! In mid-flight! Not even whispering! There were no flight attendants around, as we were in the back row of the plane, and no one else seemed ruffled (or awake) but me. But boy, was I ruffled—probably irrationally so.
It was just a phone call, after all. Right? Or was it grounds for summoning assistance? Perhaps the simple fact that something so expressly forbidden was happening and no one was reacting is what threw me off, but I couldn't shake the anxiety until we'd landed at the gate hours later and were leaving the plane.
Have you ever seen someone make a cell phone call during a flight? Would you make a big fuss about it if you did? What other electronic-device shenanigans have you encountered on an airplane? Tell us about it in the comments!
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