According to the F.A.A., 712 million passengers flew within the United States in 2010. Let’s assume that just 1 percent of those passengers — about two people per Boeing 737, a conservative number — left a cellphone, e-reader or laptop turned on during takeoff or landing. That would mean seven million people on 11 million flights endangered the lives of their fellow passengers.
Yet, in 2010, no crashes were attributed to people using technology on a plane. None were in 2009. Or 2008, 2007 and so on. You get the point.
Surely if electronic gadgets could bring down an airplane, you can be sure that the Department of Homeland Security and the Transportation Security Administration, which has a consuming fear of 3.5 ounces of hand lotion and gel shoe inserts, wouldn’t allow passengers to board a plane with an iPad or Kindle, for fear that they would be used by terrorists.
I understand that new technologies represent uncertainty and uncertainty represents opportunity for those looking to take advantage of such a gap. I get it. But today’s flight rules pertaining to electronics seem cobbled together by a patchwork of guesses, assumptions and urban-legend-grade fears.
I have to turn off my iPhone entirely, not just put it in Airplane Mode, even though Airplane Mode shuts down every single radio in the device? Makes no sense.
I have to turn off my Kindle, even if my 3G radio is off? Even if I don’t have a model with a 3G radio? If that’s the case, why don’t I need to yank the battery out of my wristwatch to power it down?
For that matter, why are pacemakers and hearing aids allowed to operate?
I know I’m slipping into a rant here (I can feel it), but seriously, this is easily one of my top pet peeves.
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