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The In-Flight Communications Problem January 15, 2013

Posted by Peter Varhol in Technology and Culture.
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I’m not a physicist, but I seriously doubt if there is any electromagnetic interference with consumer electronic devices on flying aircraft. That’s especially true if the devices don’t have wireless communications enabled. I understand the concept of interference, and it’s almost certainly not an issue.

In flight, airlines (such as Delta, where I am a frequent flyer) are reasonably happy to sell wifi at an exorbitant cost. Still, some are willing to pay it. If I work on my flights, I generally am satisfied with working on documents, rather than communications. I value my disconnected time, which usually occurs only when I am in the air.

I fly fairly frequently, and I generally fly long distances (five times to Europe last year). My problem occurs when I have to listen to your phone calls in flight. I do so on the ground, but I don’t want your voice (or the voice of your conversation partner) during the bulk of my quiet time. Once, I had to listen to a woman attempting to fire an employee as we sat on the tarmac. I had three blessed hours of quiet time, until we touched down, and she resumed the haranguing. If I had to deal with that conversation during flight, I would almost certainly be in prison for manslaughter today.

I have to turn off my Nook during taxi, takeoff, and touchdown, but that is a small price to pay for not hearing your phone conversations during that time. So to those of you who complain that you can’t keep your phones or computers on during an entire flight, I can only say that you should be careful of what you wish for. The result will almost certainly be, well, murder.



1. backtothecode - January 15, 2013

Great post 🙂 What I would add, and maybe I should copyright this, is a concept of ‘no-signal’ zone airlines could extra charge for 😉

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