Sunday, April 24, 2011

Switch off your cell phones!! are the airlines serious?

AirAsia Boeing 737-300 (9M-AAO)Image via Wikipedia
First it was on  a flight to India, Cochin to be more precise, and before take off from LCCT, there were at least four passengers  using their cell phones and either making or answering calls, the stewardess and the stewards walked by as they did not see a thing, and me the nervous passenger watching.

Then just as the plane started to move I pointed my finger to the chap on the end of the  aisle adjacent to mine and sternly said "will you shut off that phone please," and he did, but glared at me as if to say, "it is none of your business," the other passengers in the plane gave me a look too, I am not sure if they are in agreement or looked at me as a trouble causer.
Thai Airways Boeing 747-400 in 1974-2005 liver...Image via Wikipedia

Very honestly I am unperturbed, my safety comes first to remain alive rather then please others.

Through this flight I see another passenger using his phone and is apparently either texting or sending an email I am not sure, but all of us clearly heard the Captain and the Chief Steward say at the beginning of the flight that "all hand phones should be off during the flight." Were they serious?
Malaysia Airlines Cabin CrewImage by axcellor via Flickr

I take the initiative again I walk up a few rows ahead of me and tell the lady using the phone to switch it off and she does so saying, "oh sorry!"

This was Air Asia , on my return flight I encountered the same thing, and some arrogant passengers who just went  ahead  and did  the texting without any concern for the others ion the flight, one chap began calling and I had to do the needful again.

On my return I wrote to Air Asia to date I have yet to get a reply.

Next it was the the flight to Thailand, I am on Malaysian Airlines, rated one of the top airlines in the world by 'Skytrax' the lady next to me has her hand phone on, and the texting or emails begin, it goes on and on, I am nervous, then as the plane starts I tell her to switch it off and she does, the same applies to the lady on my right, she hears what I say to the lady on the left and follows suit.

I return from Thailand, I have to delay my flight by another day, as I have further business commitments, I am put put on the Orchid airlines - Thai Airways, I get in and take my seat, on the overhead signs I see "all electronic devices off," a man behind my seat, a French Caucasian I suppose as he was speaking French was engaged in conversation on his hand phone,  I got up from my seat, turned to him and said  a"excuse me please" he was sitting in the seat just behind mine, I repeat it several times, "excuse me" even placed my hand in front of his face he just ignored me, does not even look at my direction, and continued talking, I then said , "can you switch off the phone!" and for those of you who know me that would have been pretty clear, he ignored me again, a stewardess came along I asked her if she could get him to switch off the phone,  she did not seem to understand , I pointed to the sign "all electronic devices off" and she replied me in Thai.

I sat down and the man goes on on his phone non stop till the plane starts moving, there was a late comer, he sat on  the seat next to mine, he was on his phone speaking to someone, the plane is already either on tow or moving, I told  him to switch it off, he said  "yes" and continued speaking, another stewardess came  along she noticeds it and at last this stewardess told s him rather sternly to switch it off.

On all flights  we are informed not to switch on the phone till we got out of the plane, but the minute the plane begins taxiing the hand phones came out and these thoughtless passengers begin their all important conversations.

I know that there was an Air Bus crash in Bombay some years back which Air Bus attributed to the use of Cell phones by passengers during flight,  and I know ever since cell phones were not allowed to be used on board flights.

Neil Whitehouse, a British oil worker,  served  a one-year jail sentence in England for refusing to switch off his cell phone on a 1998 British Airways flight from Spain.

Sue Redmond, a British Airways PLC spokeswoman, said,  "Whitehouse put the plane at risk because cellular phones can disrupt the plane's automatic pilot, cabin-pressure controls -- and every system that is needed to keep that airplane safe for flying."

If anyone visits the web on the issue, more and more people tend to think it is alright to use cell phones in the air, many attribute the ban to commercial reasons rather then safety.

 There are experts who still think that signals from cell phones can interfere with navigational electronics and cause havoc to the planes, especially during landing and take off.

Whatever the reasons I think airlines should be more transparent about it, and tell us once and for all where they stand, as there is nothing like the jitters one gets when one sees an individual using a cell phone on flight.

If it is indeed dangerous, or even if they are unsure if it is safe, I think the aviation authorities should find a way of to take these phones into their custody before passengers board a flight and return it to them on after landing.

It's always better to be safe then sorry.

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