Do You Follow Airline Electronic Device Policies? A Pilot Just Called Me Out…

There are two parts to this post, addressing this topic in general, and then sharing my specific experience from today. Let’s start with a question reader Atul posed in the Ask Lucky forum:

What is the most appropriate action one should take if a fellow passenger switches on his cell phone in cellular mode 5 mins before landing?

Fortunately airlines have largely liberalized their electronic device policies as of a couple of years ago, when the FAA changed their stance on the topic. Prior to that you couldn’t use electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, and landing, even in airplane mode. It’s ridiculous it took so long for that to happen, since an electronic device in “airplane mode” has never posed a threat to the safety of a plane.

Now the challenge is for flight attendants to “police” which phones aren’t in airplane mode during taxi, takeoff, and landing.

When the policy was first changed I found that flight attendants were pretty vigilant in trying to look at peoples’ cell phones and see whether the “airplane mode” symbol was visible. However, over time I’ve found that they care less, and for the most part don’t bother checking anymore.

Do you put your phone in airplane mode when you’re supposed to?

To be perfectly honest, when I’m flying on a US carrier I’ll typically only put my phone in airplane mode after takeoff when the phone loses its signal, and also do sometimes turn it on a minute or two before landing.

To answer Atul’s question, I personally wouldn’t say anything, or perhaps more accurately, I wouldn’t look at someone else’s phone to begin with.

I’m curious about what you guys do, though. Based on my observations, it seems like a vast majority of people don’t put their phone in airplane mode when the door closes. Do you?

A pilot called me out today for using electronics…

Not all aviation authorities allow the use of electronic devices in airplane mode during taxi, takeoff, and landing. A while back I wrote about how Chinese airlines don’t allow cell phones in general. But they’re not alone in having outdated rules.

Last night I flew from Frankfurt to Johannesburg on a South African Airways A340-600s,  and this morning I flew from Johannesburg to Cape Town on an A319.

Cape-Town-2

South African Airways doesn’t let you use any electronic devices during taxi, takeoff, and landing, even if they’re in airplane mode (which I believe is dictated by the country’s aviation authority). Obviously a cell phone in airplane mode doesn’t pose any risk to a plane, but I guess they just haven’t gotten around to updating their policy.

However, I had no issues using my iPhone to take pictures during taxi, takeoff, and landing on my longhaul flight yesterday.

Fast forward to my flight to Cape Town this morning, where I was seated in business class. The seat next to me was empty, and a pilot in uniform was seated on the opposite window.

Cape-Town-3

During our taxi out my phone was in airplane mode and I was taking some pictures. Out of nowhere the guy yells (with quite a rude tone) “you need to shut that off now, it’s a safety hazard.”

I wasn’t going to argue with him, though I’m not sure how much faith I have in a pilot who thinks an iPhone in airplane mode poses a risk to a plane. 😉 Yes, it’s a violation of a regulation, but does it actually pose a hazard? Of course I obeyed his instructions, but it was a damn shame, since there were some gorgeous views on approach into Cape Town. Instead the below image was the last one I was able to capture before we began our descent and devices had to be shut off…

Cape-Town-1

So… just how closely do you follow electronic device policies when flying?

Comments

  1. “though I’m not sure how much faith I have in a pilot who thinks an iPhone an airplane mode poses a risk to a plane.”

    I guess theres a typing error lucky

  2. I work in real estate and a tenant of ours at an industrial facility tests electronic interference for eletronics (aviation systems, laptops, computers, cell phones, etc.). Their facility tests everything from HP Computers to classified military systems.

    While touring the facility, I asked the company rep if our cell phones/laptops/computers etc. actually interfere. With no pause he said absolutely not, they really pose no hazard to the flight systems on a plane. …

  3. I personally put my phone on airplane mode before takeoff and turn off airplane mode after landing. I do like the feeling of being disconnected from the world when I fly, so it doesn’t bother me.

    I’m bothered that you seem to have an issue with the pilot calling you out. It’s their airline, their country, their rules. It’s a slippery slope when you choose to disobey rules just because you don’t agree with them especially when the rules aren’t hurting or extremely inconveniencing anyone. Applying that logic to other situations could be problematic.

  4. I’m a pilot myself and have no problem whatsoever with using a phone on an aircraft. In fact one of the first things I learned in flight school was how to make free phone calls at certain altitudes where the cell phone logs into two towers at the same time

  5. I always forget to turn off the signal because I put the phone in my bag at security. Sorry about that.

  6. I am always compliant even though I know my phone poses no threat in airplane mode. The larger issue is that passengers generally ignore safety instructions and the crew is frustrated because they have to enforce the rules – whether we think they are valid or not. I understand where they’re coming from.

  7. Of course it’s a hazard, but not in the way that it can bring a plane down. However, if you’re distracted by your phone when there’s an emergency, you’ll be less apt to be prepared, which is a undoubtedly a hazard. With that said, I often listen to music / don’t turn my phone off when I’m “supposed to,” unless I’m seated in an exit row (or a bulkhead with a FA right in front of me).

  8. Rules are there for a reason and it is not for me to decide which ones should and should not be followed. While I agree that there are rules in many situations that I know are not correct, they are the rules none the less.

    I have to agree with the above poster who said that YOU deciding which rules YOU should follow can be problematic. In this case it has been established that electronic devices in airplane mode are not a hazard, but how do you know that phones in transmit mode will not potentially cause an issue? If you are an electrical engineer who works in aviation, I may respect your “authority,” but am not sure that being an aviation blogger gives you the expertise to decide if this rule is valid or not.

  9. @ Andre — I have no issue with him calling me out, and don’t think I said anything to that effect. I only took issue with him thinking it’s a hazard. The most progressive aviation authorities in the world agree it doesn’t pose any risk. Simply think he should have said it violates the rules rather than suggesting I’m actually endangering anyone/anything.

  10. @ Keith — Sure, but you can also be distracted by taking a nap, listening to music, etc., and that’s totally allowed.

  11. @ Adam W — So the most advanced aviation authorities in the world changing their policy isn’t enough “authority?”

  12. Lucky, you are being ridiculous. You need to comply with the regulations in each plane you fly. Stop being an a… and thinking YOU know more than the people who actually operate the airline. Sure, maybe the need to be in airplane mode may (or not) be a safety issue, but it is not for you to decide, eh? Would 500 cell phones out of airplane mode be an issue too? (in case everybody chose to ignore the regulation). You are becoming too much of an overentitled and overindulgent person.

  13. Yeah, I find South Africans very rude also. A pilot in uniform wither he is on duty or not is a representative of his airline and should have kindly reminded you of their policy. I wouldn’t want that individual piloting my plane.

  14. @ Chambo — I’m not disagreeing I needed to turn the phone off, but I will 10000% stick to saying that it’s not a safety hazard, even if every phone is on. Seriously, why have so many aviation authorities approved electronics if it poses a risk? It doesn’t…

  15. Interesting to find this article so soon after my flight last week when I was sitting next to an FAA employee. She told me that pilots were not happy with the recent FAA decision changing the rules. That, yes, phones do interfere with the plane’s electronics, and that if someone doesn’t have their phone in airplane mode on a plane, at the ATC tower they can tell which seat the phone transmissions are coming from, and thus have the ability to tell which passenger has their phone in transmit mode.

  16. @ lucky – That’s why I used the word “seem” as I wasn’t sure if you were bothered or not.

    To your reply: While that maybe true he may have chosen the word hazard to make you believe it was a more dire situation than reality making a more pursauasive argument for you to follow the rules. He can’t perceive your intelligence when it comes to aviation matters as you probably can’t perceive if he actually believed it to be a hazard.

  17. @ Robin — The FAA employee was pulling your leg. Suggesting that the tower can tell which seat has their phone on is as ridiculous as back in the day when flight attendants claimed they could see exactly how many electronic devices on the plane were powered on.

  18. Lucky, I’m curious if you made any attempt to engage with the pilot? Identify yourself as a travel blogger, and start asking about the differences in these policies? Might have been an interesting look into that airline’s culture.

    Anyway, I don’t see how any of this is policeable. How many mobile phones on any given plane, as a percentage, are not in airplane mode or “off”? 10, 20? Because there’s no way they are all in airplane mode.

    Also, I consider hurtling along the ground at 150 knots to be a safety hazard.

  19. For take off I put my phone in airplane mode as we start the take off roll. For landing I turn my phone back on usually around the time we are lined up and low over the runway but not yet touched down. I always use my phone for photos at all points of flight. I do eventually get it into airplane mode, but that is more to save the battery than for any other reason.

  20. @ Tuggernuts — There were three seats between us and he seemed like a jerk, so I had no interest in having any sort of a conversation with him.

  21. I put my phone in airplane mode when I think we’re approaching the runway and off after the wi-fi is shut off. I’ve never been asked about it since the rules changed but am happy to comply with whatever crew tells me directly.

  22. I follow safety-related rules and crewmember instructions, even if I think the rules should be different. As to Atul’s original question, when I see people disregarding rules/instructions like those involving devices, I don’t take any action. I just silently judge them for thinking they’re so special they get to make their own rules.

  23. There would be Chaos in the world if everyone decides by their own if a rule makes sense or not. If there is a rule to turn off your phone, turn it off!

  24. It’s only a safety hazard if you are sitting in view of a SAA pilot while using it. Probably because it causes his blood pressure to go way up. Using it while sitting elsewhere wouldn’t be a problem. 😉

  25. I’m not sure why so many neo-fascists are reading a puckish, gay, American travel blogger, but they’re clown people and you should, of course, ignore them.

    Obviously, you should decide which rules to follow and which to ignore. That’s both the responsibility and the privilege of any free person. It was the animating belief of the people who founded our country. Maybe some of the commenters are from collectivist societies?

    Rules are “there for a reason,” in the sense that everything has an explanatory cause– but that “reason” could well be inertia, ignorance, or paranoia. While I don’t think people snapping at you to turn off your phone is a sign of imminent oppression (and while I think you were right not to engage with the guy), I think it’s a manifestly dumb rule that you were correct to ignore.

  26. I’m surprised how many commenters are 100% for following rules just because they are rules. Highly conformist group here. Lucky you should consider starting a small cult

  27. Cell phones use maximum power when they’re first turned on and hunting for signal. So turning on your phone a few minutes before landing, just when the landing gear, tower communications, and lots of complex interactions are initiated is a great way to test your theory that cell phone interference is meaningless. See if you can get everyone on the plane to start their phones at the same time to prove just how meaningless the rules are.

    Alternatively, follow the rules.

  28. @Lucky: I do not care whether you believe it is hazardous or not. Just follow the rules (which you explicitly said you don’t “I turn airplane mode off 1 minute before landing”). Eventually it may be alllowed to use the phone on the plane. Now it is not. Just one more minute until landing… can you live with it?

  29. I don’t think cell phones pose a hazard, but I follow the rules out of respect for the crew. It’s also not a hazard to talk loudly in the quiet zone of a lounge, but nearly everyone follows those posted rules out of respect for the lounge staff and other lounge patrons. People who decide that the rules don’t apply to them are being a**holes. We all do it once in a while, and some people do it all the time.

  30. Rose, I think you’re confusing your American passport with a cloak of invincibility.

    You’d be surprised how little that blue document gets you in other countries.

    There, you had best bottle up that “we’re American and do what we want!” and respect their laws and customs, lest you find yourself in some black hole of a prison, with many of us saying “I told you so.”

    Outside of your country of citizenship is hardly the place to get on your soapbox and take a stand.

    As for you Lucky, when you’re disgusted over foreign tourists acting poorly, perhaps you should look in the mirror: The way we see things are not the same. And to that Captain? You very well may have looked like one of those Chinese parents that lets their kid take a dump in the aisle of a plane.

    Do not assume people think logically.

  31. Lucky – Regardless of whether or not it’s a hazard….if you knew the rules, why did you turn your phone on to begin with? That’s the part I don’t understand.

  32. Whether it poses a “hazard” or not I am in the camp with others who have chosen to follow the rules. Paying for a ticket does not give us the right to pick and choose which rules to follow. I see the frustration on the faces of the crew when people’s phones are ringing during take off an landing. Nothing can be that important that it can’t wait the extra few minutes until wheels are down. There’s plenty of time to catch up with mail and messages on the taxi to the gates.

  33. @Chambo

    Not even 500 phones would impose a hazard, though I wouldn’t really like to have 500 people talking on the phone all at the same time…

  34. I too follow the rules out of respect for the crew – I remember being on an AC flight many years ago before the change in rules where one passenger was a Super Elite and would not turn off his phone after many repeated polite requests from the crew. This put her in an awkward position since she was just trying to do her job and he was just blatantly ignoring her. She finally had to bring another crew member (I’m assuming a more senior one) who then had to basically threaten to revoke his status (which is an over the to punishment for the crime and I’m not even sure she could do that?) because they no other way to convince him to get off his phone. I get it that he didn’t agree or care for the rule, but then take it up with the FAA or airline management. Not this poor FA who is just trying to do her job and I’m sure isn’t paid half of what that guy made. I do think the pilot did not have to be so rude to you. He could have just asked nicely – what has happened to common manners and respect for your fellow man these days?

  35. I’ll probably have my phone on and connected until we’re holding short of the runway or just turning onto the runway for takeoff, then its airplane mode. I’ll turn it back on as soon as the wheels touch down on the runway. I dont think there’s an issue with keeping a phone off airplane mode either – I’ve forgotten to turn it on airplane mode on a flight once or twice. The only thing is that the phone will actively be scanning for a connection, meaning it uses up more battery.

  36. I shut down my cell before boarding and turn it back on only when I’m in the terminal.

    I don’t know what’s true and what’s myth when it comes to the use of cell phones on planes. I just like being totally disconnected for a little while. Flying means ‘me’ time and I like to quietly enjoy it with a bloody mary and a good book.

  37. I will use my phone out of airplane mode during taxi, as that mode can last forever and the danger seems low. I’m in airplane mode as soon as we turn onto the active runway, if not a bit before if the FAs seem intent on it. I do not turn the cellular back on until wheels are on the ground–100s of phones all trying to regain signal during the landing phase seems unsafe to me, though I have no specific scientific knowledge of that.

  38. Let’s all pick which rules to go with and which not. Lots of people are totally convinced they can drive safely while texting or under the influence. So I guess that makes it OK and if they obeyed the rules/laws they would be part of the flock.

    If nothing else the special people are a distraction to the crew. I’d rather them to be taking of other things (and yes – I know you’re going to say therefore jut allow it).

  39. As others have said, I’m shocked that this many of your readers are so conformist. I’d argue that given the standardization among aircraft communication equipment and the ubiquitous use of Boeing and Airbus aircraft, it defies belief to argue that you are actually endangering safety as long as you are complying with one country or airline’s policy on electronic devices (read the most liberal possible policy, which I believe would be to allow phones with transmission turned on at all times, and if not that, certainly phones in airplane mode)

  40. If I recall correctly, you were on a flight where the pilot in command asked for ALL devices to be turned off for landing due to the type of approach and you did not comply (as you posted photos of the landing in the post about it). While this pilot may have been a jerk, you do seem to pick and choose what instructions to follow as you see fit. Hiding behind the veneer of “it isn’t really a hazard” won’t garner you much sympathy.

  41. Yes, you definitely should have explained to the pilot that you are a famous blogger with (obviously) more knowledge and experience about airline safety than he probably has. Because in all situations it should always be up to the person who believes he has superior knowledge and experience to decide what rules are applicable.

    You’re an anarchist, aren’t you? 😉

  42. If the rule is not to have the phone out then just follow the rule. Can’t stand when people want to ignore/debate the rules, because they think they know better. If you don’t like the rule fly a different airline. Also, with older cell phone systems and older planes there can be interference with aircraft systems. Not sure what plane you were flying on, but if it was some old equipment that doesn’t have all the shielding there is a risk albeit extremely minor because cell phones have changed a lot as well.

  43. And “experts” are never wrong. Thalidomide, collapsing bridges, buildings……seriously, even If the risk is low. Do you want to be the guy that kills 166 people by not following the rule? As a fellow passenger I don’t want you making that decision for me….just follow the rule, it isn’t hard. Like when in Singapore….don’t chew gum, it’s against the law, your opinion or those of experts don’t matter for shit when you are sitting in a foreign jail.

  44. @ Robert — That’s a risk I’m willing to take, when me taking a picture while my phone is in airplane mode kills 166 people…

  45. I’ve only recently began reading this blog but already im finding lucky you have common personality traits narcissistic, arrogant and pretentious.
    Next time your about to take off remove your seat belt, drink some hot coffee, check your overhead luggage, place your onboard luggage next to you or perhaps in the aisle. Get my drift.
    I think you dont enjoy being told what to do, that somehow all this redemptive non revenue travel you do puts you above everyone else on the plane. Your not of any authority to have an opinion about flight safety and electronic devices so just follow what the airline in its respective country is asking and you wont be having this conversation again.

  46. Forget about phones for a second.

    Who gets to decide which rules to follow, and which are okay to ignore while in a metal tube hurtling through space at 400 mph?

    We are all told to follow crewmember instructions and posted signs. So during some turbulence or chop, when the seatbelt sign is on, is it ok to go to the bathroom? I bet a lot of us think it’s fine for us to do it, because we won’t fall or trip or land on someone if the plane drops suddenly. But what if we do, and we hurt ourselves or someone else? And what if it’s so bad that we have to divert? Would you be annoyed if you had to spend time diverting, refueling, etc. just because someone didn’t follow the rule?

    Turbulence poses no hazard. Until it does.

    Rules schmules.

    Conformist? Anarchy? Slippery slope?

  47. rules are rules, whether we agree with them or not. I am a flight attendant and see this all the time. too many people today feel so self entitled. Granted I myself think some rules are ridiculous but it is what it is. I don’t go into your office, or place of business and disrespect rules/policies even if I don’t agree with them, so plz don’t come into my office and disrespect anything. Manners these days will go a very long way in any situation. thx

  48. Lucky, if the flight crew had announced to the passengers to turn off/ put in flight mode/put away the electronic devices, and you chose to NOT to follow their command, you come across as entitled. I’d be careful, you wouldn’t want to turn into your friends in the Air Canada Frankfurt Lounge 😉

  49. Wow. Just wow. I am flabbergasted reading these comments. I have a huge problem with rules for the sake of being rules, which only serve to control people. This is one such rule. If it is a risk…ANY RISK…then passengers should not be asked to self-police. Cell phones and other devices should be confiscated at security, along with our nail clippers and toothpaste tubes. There is no gray area. If NOT a risk, then quit trying to control us for no reason other than exerting control. Yes, I comply politely with all instructions when flying, because I am courteous, both to crew and fellow passengers. But I don’t want my safety to be at the whim of Lucky, Alec Baldwin, or anyone else who can simply choose not to comply. Government overreach is real and we should all care about it.

  50. Yes, Lucky, if you are allowed to ignore the phone rules on the airplane, why should you have anything to say about the quiet area rules in the lounge?

  51. It doesn’t represent a safety risk to the plane; it represents a safety risk to you, the other passengers and crew, if you’re too busy playing Candy Crush, in the event of a real emergency.

    just cant wait for a self absorbed millennial to live tweet an emergency evac – instead of following crew directions

  52. I’m probably 30 posts beyond anybody reading replies 🙂 but here’s what I’ve been told:

    1) Analogue cell phones did cause slight interference with flight equipment (validated through testing and real-world examples) but today’s digital phones are no risk.

    2) The real reason for most of the “electronics” rules is the crew wants your attention in case of emergency and takeoff/landing is highest window of concern

    I’m no stickler for mindless rules, but it was satisfying when I finally got 2 logical reasons for many of the rules on electronics. At least there was some rationale for the cell phone rule at one point, and at least there is some rationale for why some airlines make you turn off all electronics – whether or not they are followed 😉

  53. Last weekend I combined a mileage run with attending the FTU event in Las Vegas. On 6 of the 7 flights I took, I was seated next to or near someone who I could tell had not set their phone in Airplane mode. Yes, on 6 out of 7 of those flights I asked politely then again more forcefully in 2 cases, for the passenger to go to airplane mode. Eventually everyone complied.

    I’m certainly no do-gooder, but my personal safety on board an aircraft depends on the behaviour of everyone else on board and so I’m safeguarding my own safety. Ben if I’m ever on a flight with you I will certainly ask you ever-so-nicely to turn your phone onto Airplane mode. I met you at FTU and noted I’m quite a bit bigger than you LOL.

    The point is, can you or anyone else who thinks leaving your phone transmitting is OK, actually categorically KNOW that the energy generated by that transmission will not note refer with a piece of equipment or the smallest component in it? You simply cannot know.

    See you onboard 🙂

  54. I noticed a typo in my last post “will not note refer” was an auto correct. It should read “will not interfere”. Please correct in the moderation process. Thanks

  55. why use the phrase “electronic devices”?
    Does this mean I also cannot use a point and shoot camera that does not have any WiFI/GPS/NFC signal?

  56. i use my iPhone at all phases of a flight regardless of regulations. if im caught, ill turn it off. If im not, im enjoying snapping away what shall successfully serve as my memories of a particular plane, seat, cabin, food, uniform, etc.

  57. @BlueMountain: yes, at least in a strict interpretation of the rule. The main argument used to rationalize this is that it’s a “distraction” in the event of an emergency, most likely to occur during taxi, takeoff and landing. This makes some sense for devices with earphones, but not so much for cameras. There’s also the “projectile” argument, but that one doesn’t make sense when you think about books and lap babies (both of which are also “distractions”), and most point-and-shoot cameras (and DSLRs, for that matter) have wrist straps. It used to be common to hear arguments that any electronic device, even if it can’t transmit, generate a very small electromagnetic field, but studies determined that on non-transmitting devices the field is so small it can’t even affect devices sitting right next to it, much less the wiring of an aircraft.c

  58. In spite of FAA or local domestic authorities and their rules vis a vis this matter, airlines can still impose their own rules. For example, the vaunted Porter airlines insists devices are turned off until reaching the first threshold of climb (10K). Same for Air Canada Express, though this can vary from region to region. Quite maddening.

  59. @ ROSE for president.

    I’m gobsmacked by all you precious little authoritarians pontificating about the Importance Of Following Rules. There’s nothing virtuous about mindlessly obeying rules you know to be wrong. In fact, it’s an abrogation of your duty as a rational human. Who raised you — parking officers? Library shushers? Heathrow security agents?

    As for the commenter who wrote “you’d best bottle up that “we’re American and do what we want!” and respect their laws and customs, lest you find yourself in some black hole of a prison, with many of us saying “I told you so”” … Umm, yeah… Revealing that you’d feel vindicated if minor rule-breakers were sent to black hole prisons doesn’t make you side seem like the good guy in this debate. You might wanna keep your sympathy for tyranny to yourself.

    And it’s staggering how many dummies are spouting the red herring that “if everyone decided for themselves what rules to follow, I guess people should just drive drunk?” [FACE PALM] The problem with drunk driving isn’t that it’s against the rules. The problem is that it’s incredibly reckless. If you can’t understand the difference the fact that something is prohibited and the reason why it is prohibited, you don’t have the mental capacity to exercise free will.

    Which probably makes it a good thing that you don’t.

    See ya round sometime, as you’re measuring out your lotions into 100mL baggies at security. I’ll be in the lounge, maybe even receiving one more drink than I’m entitled to. Report me, and then get a life.

  60. @josh
    Wow another up yourself pretentious arrogant narcissistic self righteous I’ll do what i like when i like asswipe.
    Go f@#$ yourself!

  61. It seems the essence of civilization is cooperation .
    For millions of people to travel every day requires tremendous cooperation . I say if they want you to turn your phone off , fasten your seat belt , not start fires or whatever else then cooperate or choose another airline . My guess is that the majority of the passengers want to get somewhere more than they want their phone . You are not unduly put upon if they want your phone turned off . It is not a matter of yielding to authority , following or not following rules . It is a matter of choice : you are not required to fly on that plane . AFAIK it is permitted to have both a smartphone and a camera . Plan better .

  62. Rules are rules..agree with them or not. I am a 27 year flight attendant, and seen this a lot, self entitlement . I don’t go to any place of business disrespecting rules/policies, even tho I might not agree with them. Granted some rules are inane, and I don’t agree with them either, but I have to enforce them. All I ask is that u don’t come into my office and not have respect for policy. manners go a long way in any situation. thx

  63. Lucky, my favorite comment so far was about your inconsistency. It’s ok for you to pick and choose which rules you are going to follow and if someone objects to that then they are rude and stupid. But if someone else happens to not want to follow a rule that inconveniences you then they are in the wrong and rude and stupid. Character is consistent and unfortunately yours shines through. If you want to be respected then try respecting others for a change. And your comment about being willing to risk the 166 other lives…… SMH On the otherhand, I think I shall stop right there because I am not the jackass whisperer.

  64. I always put my phone away or take off and landing, more specifically I have my cell phone in one pocket and my passport in the other. My reasoning behind this (and it comes from a pilot) is that if there is an issue and I need to evacuate the aircraft (leaving all carry ons behind) there is no time to grab either out of a bag. If they are in my pockets I have ID and a way to contact people when out of the plane, the passport is important because if you are on an international flight and something happens you have ID on you. I am not saying it is the first thing I will need if it is a fiery crash but if some bozo pops the slide while in taxi and everyone ends up on the tarmac I would rather have my passport on me for Customs than not. I know there are also concerns with cellphones being projectiles during a crash.

    I know it is bad to think in, “what will I do if we crash terms” but I don’t think it will hurt. That is also the reason why I never wear shorts on airplanes, because the bottom quarter of the slides are rough to slow the people down and can cause good scratches and burns.

  65. I turn my phone off completely when asked to put it in airplane mode. I don’t turn it on again until after we have landed.

  66. Josh – I see nothing in your “response” that shows other peoples’ comments are red herrings. Your “have one more drink” makes me wonder if your one of those that feel that your driving skills are more than a much for impairment..

    If you don’t believe that there a lot of people that think they can drive fine impaired then you don’t get around much. I don’t trust their judgement on that, and don’t necessarily trust yours (or Lucky’ on all calls). I know that the driver that killed a friend of mine said he was fine regardless of what breath test and blood said.

    And of course people, as usual, resort to a lot of name calling when they have no real argument.

  67. Just remember when, flying in the USA, that next time you disobey a crew member’s direct order your are violating 14 C.F.R. §§ 91.11, 121.580, 135.120 and 49 USC 46318 & 46504 which can lead to fines of up to $25,000 and 20 years in prison (depending if the US Attorney prosecutes you under 46318 or 46504). I am not saying you will be prosecuted, but it does happen. You may not agree with a law (I don’t agree with many laws) but I follow them because to live in a free and collective society we must respect the laws, if you want to change he laws write your Member of Congress or Senator and they could do that.

    Personally when a member of a flight crew tells me something (99% of the time) it is because they are doing their job and not because they are on a power trip. Even when they are still on a power trip I listen to them.

    TSA has yet to directly prevent a terrorist attack but when they tell me to take off my shoes or that I I have to go through the nude-o-scope (even though I have PreCheck) I do it and don’t fight them because even if I disagree with a rule/law when traveling I follow it because it is easier or all parties involved. If I feel my civil rights have been violated I can later file a complaint but later not make a scene.

    Also don’t believe me that people are prosecuted have a look here https://www.faa.gov/data_research/passengers_cargo/unruly_passengers/

  68. It took me approximately 45 seconds to find a credible source of information explaining the various ways that personal electronic devices can disrupt aircraft instrumentation and communication. Your phone is not more important than the aircraft systems. Shut the f-ing thing off.

  69. I seem to get it pretty lucky in Australia, I’ll usually ask when I board the plane if i’m allowed to take photos of the interior of the aircraft, to which they courteously allow me to. I’ve never been told to turn my phone off, but Qantas do make a point of telling you to put it on Aeroplane Mode before we begin our departure. I have to agree with a previous comment, it is nice to switch off from the outside world and enjoy the flight! 🙂

    I was listening to music once during the safety briefing and a flight attendant gave me a dirty look, luckily I could recite the whole thing, with the gestures also!! She wasn’t impressed!!

  70. I really don’t care whether it’s “dangerous” or not. It boils down to common courtesy.. If someone working for the airline asks me to please follow the rules in their place of business as a guest (yes, I pay for the ticket but I don’t buy the plane) I feel obligated to oblige. So everyone who argues that it’s a stupid policy just because you buy a ticket does not give you the right to pick and choose what policies you decide are worthwhile.

  71. I was once on a flight into SLC. A guy next to me was on his phone talking with someone in Arabic with 10-15 left to touchdown. While I’m sure it was no issue for the planes safety who would do that and in Arabic? It’s rude in any language but in Arabic your obviously going to arouse suspicion. I asked the guy to turn it off, politely, and he did, acting like it was normal to do it. Maybe he was clueless, I don’t know but certain seat mates may have reacted much more negatively than me, affecting the whole planes safety. I wonder if we should go back to the old days, what happened to reading a magazine under 10k feet?

    Given what Lucky and others experience on certain airlines, foreign in nature, it seems disobeying the rules is just what many people live by and carry on the same way on our carriers!

  72. I fly every week for work and I do follow the electronic devices safety announcement. Why? Because I’m not a self obsessed douchebag who thinks they’re above everyone else

  73. People can argue the rules and ‘science’ all day long.

    But, at the end of the day, if anyone really thinks EVERY phone on the plane is turned off is downright IGNORANT. Even people that follow the rules forget. And others don’t care.

    For some reason, planes have not been falling out of the sky.

    All these arguments are ignorant, naive and stupid.

  74. Ben,

    Your coming off as a very entitled A Hole because you fly on miles every week. I’m a pilot and I do what the airline wants. If they want it off it goes off. Why? I am not in the business of not following rules. That’s how pilots get into trouble quickly when flying. Disregard the rules and SOP’s and yes 166 people could die as you said in some post above. Sorry you could not take pics but maybe just maybe if you spent somewhere more then 2 days you would have a chance to see things. You are not and never will be some aviation expert. You simply are someone who rides around in C/F cabins. Good for you! Follow the rules and stop crying.

  75. I agree with you – it’s BS, but definitely best to play the game. So smile, conform, then whip out your awesome wifi enabled smart camera and carry on so we can see your pics! That pilot was obviously petrified that some other plane spy would call HIM out for not saying anything so covered his ass. 🙂

  76. Now I can sleep.
    Susan has made her comment.
    She is a deep thinker.

    It’s what I live for.

  77. Lucky

    There are rules to be followed, once you break one where do you stop. In reply to your comment I was not looking at the passenger’s phone, but when he pulls it our discretely and start up the phone the bright screen is hard to miss.

    I feel it is not right to be switching on your phone when the rules are to keep it in airplane mode. Can we not wait for five minutes to check some random texts or posts?

  78. Guys
    Come on
    Give him a break
    First, they are his own views
    Second, it is important to follow rules whether current or outdated
    Third, since we are not aviation engineers, let’s not try and become one
    Fourth, politeness matters. Everyone gets hurt when we speak rudely regardless of whether you are on the right side or the wrong one

  79. Well, have some basic EQ and follow the rules. No need to quote FAA. Thats just a domestic agency not worth more or less than the Zimbabwe authority or Iceland authority. You americans may think you kind of rule and own the world but not everyone shares that view. When Im in the US I comply with all TSA and immigration bullying nonsense, regardless what I think privately. So if you fly on a domestic South African route, just follow their rules. If you dont like it just stay within your borders.

  80. This is ridiculous.

    Lucky isn’t arguing that he shouldn’t follow the rules – he broke the rule, and fairly got called out for it, and he listened. He’s arguing that the rule itself is stupid, and pointless – which I agree with.

    Some people are getting a bit carried away and missing the point.

  81. I get the following the rules part, but are you all really dumb enough to believe that because you forcefully tell the person next to you to turn of their phone that everyone else has done the same. Even on the smallest of planes I can garuntee there’s someone who hasn’t turned off their phone and I haven’t yet seen a plane go down for this reason and I’ve watched a ton of these airplane crash shows. Wouldn’t you think it a tremendous issue if that were the case. With this many people flying wouldn’t you think they would make it more of a point consistently across airlines to keep your phone off. Wouldn’t it be on the news more, wouldn’t they be showing you examples on tv of how it innterupts the airplane avionics. They make stupid 3D dramatizations of every other unlikely scenario, if this was such an issue wouldn’t they demonstrate it for public more often instead of just saying its a danger.

    I guess Sam Carrigan is just gonna use his size to intimidate every passenger around him to turn off their phone? Well I for one will blatantly tell you to go f*ck yourself until someone of authority acctually makes a point of it or I get caught cause just like everyone else your not sitting next to, you’ll never be able to tell who that person is.

  82. Whether you agree with the rules or why they are in place doesn’t change facts. Aircraft are designed to take a direct lightning hit and keep on flying safely with all instruments functioning. It’s pretty clear a cell phone, or 200 of them, cannot create a risk. And remember, all the cell phones around the landing path on the ground are turned on and being used.

  83. Lucky, you and many others are very wrong and very misinformed about the “phones off” rule during critical phases of flight. I fly in the cockpit an average of 600 hours per year, with over 6,000 hours in the cockpit and can tell you that there ARE in fact safety concerns with cell phones being in the ON position (airplane mode is always okay). No, the plane will not fall out of the sky or burst into flames because the guy in 17B has his iPhone on, but while his precious phone is back there searching for signal, retrieving data, or switching between cell towers to find the best reception, I’m in the cockpit listening to an irritating buzzing/chirping sound caused by his cell phone interfering with my aviation headset. Depending on how many people are breaking the rules on any given day, that buzzing sound can go from mildly annoying to full-on interference with important radio transmissions. In the right set of circumstances (worst case scenario), that cell phone interference could cause the crew to miss a critical radio call from a controlling agency (i.e., tower telling the crew to go around, ATC directing a maneuver for traffic, turn to avoid weather, etc…). So yes, there is a very real and significant safety concern with cell phones being left on during take off and landings. Please don’t be so arrogant to assume that you know better because some “expert” (who likely doesn’t work in a cockpit) told you so. Always comply with the rules. Like them or not, understand them or not, agree with them or not, they are there for a good reason. I recommend finding a pilot friend in civil aviation who will let you come out to his private plane, put on a headset, turn your phone off and on and hear for yourself how loud and annoying the interference can be. Fly safe!

  84. @Lucky – Whatever you think of the policy (and you’re evidently not an electronics genius, which is fine), you ARE encouraging people not to follow aviation rules WHICH ARE IN PLACE TO ENSURE SAFETY. Whether a particular rule is “outdated” or not, it is the aviation authority’s decision: Your decision is whether you want to fly in that authority’s airspace.

    Please don’t encourage people to have anything but the utmost respect for safety rules, even if you think you know better. That shit’s dangerous.

  85. I would have to agree with Lucky and laugh at all of you conformist robots who have posted replies. The pilot was being a jerk and obviously is a control freak. He could have politely said something in regards to the device needing to be put away. He represents the COMPANY and Lucky is the CUSTOMER. All of the recent data (from experts) shows that common electronic devices such as cel phones DO NOT affect the avionics. That is why the policy in the US has been changed. And for all of you haters out there Lucky was simply sharing an experience not asking for you to jump all over him. Some of you really need to get some counseling for your anger management and obvious OCD.

  86. In general I always follow the instructions from the crew, sometimes I forget to put ipad, whatever tab, Microsoft Band, health band, ham radio, satellite phone etc. you know the basic stuff in carryon in airplane mode.
    But if someone ask, demand, hand signal, smoke signal me to put some of the electronics in airplane mode I do it, even if its German or I feel the person is rude – not saying that Germans are rude but the language sounds rude.

    And for those who begins arguing with crew, dont forget the crew is handling your food and drinks, I never get on the bad side with people who handle my food or drinks.

  87. We had quite the opposite experience. On our SAA flight last year from JNB-LHR, we sat next to an off duty uniformed pilot in the business clasd cabin. He soon realized how muchy 7yr old son and I love flying and invited us to fly in the two cockpit jumpsests if we were ‘ever back that way’. Two weeks later, to the day, we had booked another 25,000 butt-in-seat mile itinerary to do just that. AND he insisted we use both my camera and cell phone to be have awesome memories of takeoff/landing.

    He said SAA is the best he has ever seem at maintenance–he only saw 2 ‘MEL deferrals’ in an entire year. From what I read all the US carriers fly with minimum equipment deferrals/waivers more often than without.

    (he was 100% professional on all the important regulations.. like the sterile cockpit conversation rule below 10k feet.. and showing us where to retrieve the emegency fire ax from!)

    Great conversation but he did scare us by letting us know how few pilots are actually prepared to hand fly a plane if needed. in his orientation class of 300 at SAA, all but 60 dropped out the one day they had to take off and land without autopilot or ILS.)

  88. One thing to consider is that the rule/request may not be what it seems…..

    Phone turned on, or not in airplane mode, could theoretically be used to signal or coordinate some form of attack / hijacking. It could be used to trigger an explosive devce. If you were a security expert somewhere wouldn’t it be simpler to write and distribute rules that say no electronic usage, especially since the majority of passengers will comply before being warned a first or second time.

    P.S., GSM phones do cause interference. Hold one up and take it in and out of airplane mode next to an unshielded speaker. You’ll hear crackling noises. Imagine if 50 phones were interfering at once and as fate would have it the pilot has a weak radio transmission from the tower or another plane. Boeing has miles of *unshielded* interconnefted communications and control wiring throught the length of the plane.

  89. Lucky: “To be perfectly honest, when I’m flying on a US carrier I’ll typically only put my phone in airplane mode after takeoff when the phone loses its signal, and also do sometimes turn it on a minute or two before landing.”

    You suck! It’s not your call. You are not the expert. And the rules are made for everyone…..even those for whom who think they are exempt.

  90. Hey Lucky,

    Rules vary in different jurisdictions, you travel enough not to fall into the trap of thinking that FAA knows best because they’re american. Heck, quite a few people in quite a few countries disagree with some laws in the US, but let’s not go there.
    Look at the rules for aircraft window blinds: It is ok on US carriers (AA and Delta at least) to have them down for take-off and landing (or maybe there is a rule, but it is not enforced), but on quite a few other carriers they must absolutely be up so that passengers can see outside in case of an evacuation and thus avoid fire or any obstacle.
    Who is right on that one? I’m a very frequent flyer and certainly not prone to fear of flight, but that rule alone makes me weary of travelling on US carriers.

    Be well

  91. Using a handheld electronic device in airplane mode is not an RF hazard, but it is somewhat misleading to infer that means it poses no aircraft safety hazard.

    Aircraft risk is highest during take-off and landing (landing especially). A issue arising during these phases can have sudden and catastrophic impact. A sudden drop, lurch or impact can turn the iPhone in your hand into a flying projectile weapon (just like any other item made of hard materials, not secured, in the cabin is).

    Nobody would accuse me of being a mindless droid (I do speak up when harmful rules need to be challenged, even when others would seek not to rock the boat), and I have worked in the aviation industry for many years and am quite knowledgeable on the technical operations side, but I would not do as Lucky does and has acted here.

    I think Lucky is either kidding himself or being dishonest here too, in claiming that this post was not about him being shitty and doing some mud throwing at the pilot that told him off. Lucky, has, after all called this guy a jerk in the comments here. That doesn’t sound like someone not fuming and throwing shade (and this is hardly the first post of this type from Lucky where he bitches about some slight while claiming there is nothing personal about it – sometimes he even has second thoughts abut these posts and deletes them, like he did on his recent Uber passenger rating bitch).

    > Lucky “he seemed like a jerk, so I had no interest in having any sort of a conversation with him.”

    For me, however, this wasn’t what concerned me. It was the revelation by Lucky that he routinely takes his phone out of airplane mode when the aircraft is on approach (when he thinks the signal is available really), and doesn’t turn in airplane mode until “the phone loses it signal”.

    Lucky, nobody is that important that they need to flout the instructions of aircrew to have airplane mode switched on, for take-off and landing. The experts you cite as to why taking photos on your airplane mode iPhone is fine, are the same ones saying keep your transmitting mode off until the aircraft is on the ground. RF risk may be low, but it’s still an acknowledged increase in risk and it’s no hardship for you to wait a couple of more minutes for your cell services.

    So while I have some sympathy to Lucky’s desire to take photos on his flight and that he is right that his phone, in airplane mode, poses no RF risk, there is some justification for the SAA rule to put away your phone during take-off and landing (it’s not completely risk free), and Lucky would have been seen as rude and arrogant by that pilot and the other aircrew for flouting (quite visibly given it was prominent enough for the pilot to notice) the safety directions they had advised him of.

    It just wasn’t smart, and I think Lucky came off looking more of a jerk than he thinks the pilot is. Disagree with SAA’s safety rules, sure, but if you are on their aircraft (and sitting across from one of the airline’s pilots) it would have been more politic to at least be discrete if you are going to bend/break their safety rules.

  92. Most Accidents happen during Taxi and while aircraft is ascending or descending through 10000FT.
    Airlines would like to have your full attention during this period. they also like to reduce the potential of having a device fly through the cabin if for example during take off roll something happens and crew decides to abort the take off. If a passenger losses control of their device it can potentially hit someone else and cause bodily damage. However airlines traditionally have had an aversion to discussing onboard emergencies. They don’t even show onboard movies that include an airline emergency so they came up with other excuses. At the beginning they were believable to general public, now many years later not so much. I personally like having my phone off for a few hours, I allows me to slip my electronic leash for a bit before it goes on.

  93. All of the arguments about PDAs being projectiles is moot, once TSA allowed us to continue using them IN THE AIRPLANE MODE during taxi and take-off.

    The issue is whether or not Lucky is being a jerk (and, I think, that already has been determined) by him flouting the rules.

    I work around a lot of AV equipment. Open mics during meetings. And often, we get reverberations through the mics when a phone or laptop is placed too close to the equipment. (Hell, my old RAZR flip phone used to cause interference with previous car’s radio!) Thus, we ask all meeting participants to turn off their phones’ and laptops’ WIFI capability. Invariably, someone gets caught when the mics pick up the signals….and the person sheepishly says “Oh, yeah; it’s mine. I forgot.” No, they did not forget — they tried to get away with it.

    Now, I’m not a technical expert. While I do know this happens around mics (and the more phones that are on, the more problem we have with interference), I cannot state that it impacts a plane’s avionics. But if there are 150 phones left ON during take-off, and by a fluke it impacts some equipment … well, I’d rather be safe than have 3 minutes of extra connectivity.

  94. I wouldn’t say the issue of handheld electronic devices is moot kevin (it’s still a potential flying hazard), rather it’s the civil aviation authorities accepting that the lesser of two evils (exactly because they know that more people are likely to flout the rules if they forced everyone to put their handhelds away into their pockets or purses). For those who *just can’t live* if they are aren’t playing with their devices 24/7, even during take-off and landing, they figure they have a better chance of at least getting them to turn off their transmitting modes (well, Lucky aside), the higher risk, than if they also forced them to be turned off and put away altogether to avoid the other lesser risks.

  95. I agree with lucky. If you’ve ever seen myth busters, where they bust common false myths or other studies, modern planes are shielded and so phones can’t interfere. It’s just it takes long for legislation to update. However although it doesn’t pose a security risk, it still is impolite to the crew

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