“Please turn off all electronic devices” – why?

For all of you who travel regularly by airplane you will hear this phrase on each and every flight.  Do me a favour, the next time the cabin attendant asks you to do so personally (as they always do to me), ask them why.

Here is the thing.  They actually don’t know.  They have been told to say this, but they have no clue whatsoever as to why.  it makes for an interesting conversation if you can draw them into one.  Some background.  When mobile phones began to come into popular use, there is documented examples of interference in the navigation modules of the airplane if people were sitting in certain areas of the airplane with their mobile phones switched on.  However, in modern airplanes shielding has improved so I don’t think it is really the issue, however I do agree that electronic items that have transmission capabilities (they send as well as receive) should by suspended by being put on airplane mode.  If that was the case then I wouldn’t have an issue at all.

But no, it is this general all-encompassing – all electronic devices must be turned off.  I travel with my Amazon Kindle and the arguments have no begun.  There is absolutely no logical requirement why I should stop reading.  It doesn’t transmit anything and the electronic signature of the device is negligible, so why turn it off?  When you ask, no one knows.  Its one of life’s “Just because I said so” moments, but it frustrates the shit out of me. 

For me, it is the sad reflection of the dumbing down of the general population.  More and more people seem to be losing the ability to think independently.  Personally I think it begins at school, it is then continued via a life of most folks becoming electronically lobotomized by their steady diet of reality TV.  Anyway, this is digressing.  just try it when it happens to you (as long as you are not holding a mobile phone of course).  Challenge it and watch the response.


One thought on ““Please turn off all electronic devices” – why?

  1. Hey Paul,

    I agree with you 100% and also get frustrated with the hosties and their almost Gestapo style approach to force me to turn off something. It’s the same with my iPod. It is an old one, with now antenna whatsoever built into the device, yet I am forced to switch it off. I have taken to telling them that I am also a pilot (which is certainly not a lie) and that it has no affect on the avionics or magnetic compass reading, nor does if affect the INS (Inertial Navigation System) in the cockpit, even challenging them to have the Captain pay me a visit if it’s a problem.

    So far, nobody has brought forth a Captain willing to extract my iPod or myself off the plane. Having said that, one needs to be careful because I’ve heard stories of hosties lacing your glass of Pinot Noir with eye-drops (which are a laxative), resulting in an fairly unpleasant flight.

    BTW, when you’re home in Amsterdam, we can even go flying and I’ll show you how a mobile device has negligible impact to the magnetic compass on a light aircraft, so it has even less impact sitting 10 rows back from the cockpit door 🙂

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