Do you care about shutting off gadgets on an airplane?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| January 3, 2012

Airplanes. More than likely, you’ve been on one. If you haven’t, some might say you’re missing a lot, while others might suggest you’re not missing much at all. In my opinion, flying is great, but there are plenty of downfalls to the experience. One of those is the fact that at certain points during the experience, you’ve got to shut off your favorite electronic gadget for a few minutes. It has been this way for as long as I can remember, but obviously the “problem” has become more prevalent in today’s world, but I can’t help but wonder – do you really care?

And I’m asking because I think I’m honestly right in the middle of this situation. On the fence, as they say. I’ve been on a countless number of flights over the years, dating back to when I was a kid and the only way I could ever, ever get through a flight was with some kind of gadget in my hand (it’s not like that isn’t the case anymore, though). Back then, when the flight attendants told me to turn off my GameBoy, I just did as they say, without thinking about it. It was the rule, after all. But, as I grew up, and the reason as to why I had to turn off my phone, or whatever else I had, became clear; I started wondering just why I had to do it.

There has to be something said to the fact that the reason hasn’t changed over the years. Using electronics will mess with the flight itself. Using a GameBoy back then or your smartphone today, before the plane reaches 10,000 feet could mean the plane suffers a terrible loss of much needed electronics. The obvious result would be catastrophic, or at least that’s what the FAA would have us believe. If you’ve flown before, this is either the point where you either hate flying, or maybe just hate airplanes and their regulations, or you don’t mind at all.

I know people who don’t turn off their gadgets. I’ve been on flights where people obviously don’t turn off their gadgets. I’ve been on flights where the flight attendants have told me, and others, that turning our devices on “flight mode” wasn’t good enough, and that we had to completely shut off our devices. Now, see, that’s where I get confused, and I think where the “rules” get a bit distorted. After all, I’ve always been of the mind to assume that “flight mode” is intended for when the device is ascending towards that 10,000 foot ceiling. After all, once you reach that point, you can turn your gadget on and everything is hunky-dory. So, if “flight mode” isn’t good enough, why are companies still putting it on phones?

More to the point, why was I told that “flight mode” isn’t good enough only once? Are planes different, all of a sudden? Is the technology in each plane different, to the point where sometimes phones and gadgets have to be off completely and sometimes “flight mode” is sufficient enough? To be honest, I think the sheer fact that people have kept their electronics on, and nothing has happened, shows that there’s a real issue with this whole thing. I’m not going to sit here and say that the FAA or that whole organization is making this stuff up, because I’m not in that kind of position.

So here’s the question I’ll ask you, dear reader: do you care? And, for the moment, let’s just ask the question to those who fly, and fly often. Do you honestly care that you have to turn your phone, eReader, laptop, or any other gadget off for a handful of minutes? I guess we would have to extend that to when the plane is stuck on the runway for an elongated period of time, don’t we? I think in that particular instance, when the airplane is in taxi mode, just waiting to take off, we shouldn’t have to be forced to shut off our devices. When we’re in the final run, about to ascend, then, go ahead, enforce your rules.

So, let me know: do you care that you have to turn it off?