Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Ban Them!

A story caught my eye that 2 European airlines will be testing the use of cell phones during flight. Not only do I think that this is a misbegotten idea, I think every airliner should be equipped with a jammer that prohibits the use of cell phones within the aircraft, whether it's on the ground or in the air.

As a flight attendant, this is a subject near and dear to my heart.

I'm no Luddite, I love the technology that makes it possible to be in touch with anyone on the face of the earth by virtue of a tiny instrument weighing no more than an ounce or two. Personally, I can not imagine living without it and I literally feel naked when I don't have it with me. Travelling throughout the country for days at a time, it is no luxury-it's a necessity.

That said, I believe that there are some people that cannot be trusted to exercise common sense as to when and where they use their phone. An airplane is a very confined environment where the concept of "personal space" is temporarily suspended. One is forced to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with strangers, often in a fully loaded plane, sometimes for hours. In this type of environment, one should expect some level of level of decorum (not to mention personal hygiene, which is another discussion altogether-ugh!) from one's fellow passengers. That level of decorum does not include engaging in am incredibly loud conversation (why do people think they have to scream?) on a cell phone that can be heard by dozens of their fellow passengers.

I can not tell you how many times I have been on the PA, giving a pre-flight safety briefing, only to be literally drowned out by some loud-mouth engaging in a cell phone conversation. Not only is that person not listening, they are also prohibiting those around them from hearing what I'm saying. To call it rude does not even begin to descibe this sort of boorish behavior. I take my job seriously, even if some passengers do not. I want everyone to know where the exits are in the event of an emergency evacuation. I want everyone to know how to operate the oxygen mask in the event of explosive depressurization of the cabin. The next time you're on an airplane, consider the fact that you are in a pressurized aluminum tube, travelling at 500 MPH at 35,000 feet. At this rate of speed and at this altitude, small problems become big ones very quickly. If you want to ignore the safety briefing, you do so at your own risk. The person beside you however, may well not share your indifference.

The worst offenders? Business people. Pompous asses who seem to insist upon discussing their business on cell phones as though it were some display of their importance. Not only am I not impressed, but neither are their fellow passengers who have to suffer through their loutish display of self-aggrandizement.

Many restaurants have simply banned the use of cell phones and even where they are permitted people have begun to get the message that their use in certain venues is somewhat socially unacceptable. In a venue such as an airplane, where that "personal space" that we value so highly is at a premium, it should be no less so.

No comments: