Emirates Airline recently announced that it will become the world's first airline to offer in-flight cell phone service across its fleet. At least two of its rivals, Air France and Ryan Air, are also working to announce similar service on their flights.
But I ask you, do we really want cell phone service on airplanes? Without getting into a philosophical dissection of workaholics and the (perceived) ever-increasing need for productivity in our modern world, my gut tells me, "No, we don't want mobile phones on planes."
Why? Unless you can afford business- or first-class, air travel is usually a lousy enough experience as it is. Once you're on the plane you're stuck there for between one and many hours with basically no control over who you're sitting next to (unless you're a couple in a two-seater row) and nowhere to hide if you're not a good fit with your neighbors.
Now imagine the worst airplane experience you've ever had and multiply that by the worst public cell phone experience you've ever been on the "innocent bystander" end of. Trapped on a bus or waiting in line next to an incessantly [fill in your least favorite superlative] talker? At least you can move seats or get off the bus/out of line altogether. Where are you going to go to escape that voice on a plane?
I'm sure there are plenty of good arguments in favor of in-flight mobiles, especially from business travelers for whom time is money. But I'd just as soon get in-flight Wi-FI service and let the need for communication be sated by Email and IM.
What do you think? Is in-flight cell phone service a good idea or not? Post your thoughts in the comments section.