I was on holiday all of last week, to my sister in England, very near Blackpool. On a side note, I went to the horse races at Chester. If you ever get the chance to go to horse races, place a few bets, follow the show, it is a great experience.

Back to the point of this post. We went by plane and they reminded us that the use of cell phones wasn't allowed and that they should be switched off. The thing is, we were sat on the plane for a while, on the ground, because we had lost our take off slot and we had an half hour wait by the gate.

So, we were just sat there. My girlfriend took out her mobile and decided to text the person picking us up, saying we were delayed. I am sure others did that as well. No harm done, switched phone back off. In front of us there were people there with a PDA with GPS on I think. He switched it on (as far as I could tell).

Now, shortly after that the pilot said over the intercom: "We can tell someone is using his cell phone, it's interfering with our instruments, please turn off all cell phones. If anyone is caught using his cell phone they will be removed from the flight and arrested."

Well, I had always thought that cell phones don't interfere. There is an interesting read on wikipedia on this: Mobile phones on aircraft. I have read other stories and seen programs on this which confirm that there is only a very small chance of mobile phones disturbing the flight instruments.

It just goes to show though that there is a danger of interference when using certain other wireless devices. I think, however, that this problem could be solved by just installing a jamming device in the cabins.

It also reminds me of the fact that you are not allowed to use electrical devices in petrol stations. There is absolutely no chance of a cell phone or laptop ever causing a spark. I saw this on TV and you practically have to rip open the battery for a spark of any kind.

Wirehead says:

I think that pilot might have been just guessing that someone was using a phone. The only reason phones aren't allowed on domestic flights right now is a debate over the annoyance it would cause other passengers, as well as a technical debate ("how do we make money on this?"). In a couple more years, wireless internet will be available on most flights for a fee. Also, I have never heard of anyone being "removed from the plane and arrested." I think he may have been taking some poetic license there.

Jackson says:

Actually, just after 9/11, Ryan's dad was on a flight from Seattle to LA and there was a man on the plane (in a turban, no less) that made several phone calls during the flight, despite warnings from the flight attendants. As soon as the plane landed, the man was arrested.

Doofman says:

You can't be arrested for using a cell phone per se, but if you do have to follow the instructions of the pilots and the flight attendants. I don't know the exact details, but you can be arrested for that, just as you could for disobeying an order from a police officer.

Wirehead says:

Yeah, that's right. If you were told a couple of times and didn't listen I suppose they could arrest you for that if they were in the mood. The fact is, though, you aren't going to endanger anyone by using practically any wireless device on a common frequency. Just about any common device operates at either 800, 2400, or 5000 Mhz. As far as I know there isn't any navigation-related equipment that uses those frequencies.

DataBind() says:

That doesn't make sense to me. You don't have to follow ANY order for a cop. If a cop told me to stop using my cell phone, I wouldn't be forced to obey.

If there is no danger to an airplane, why would I be forced to obey the pilot?

My point is, there must be SOME remote danger.

rnewhouse says:

I believe that when you purchase an airline ticket, you are actually entering into a contract with the carrier (a private enterprise) to behave in a certain way. You ARE subject to search with or without notice. You DO agree to follow instructions of the flight crew when it has something to do with the safety of the aircraft or other passengers. (The stewardess doesn't get to tell you to get a better haircut, for instance.)

Here's an example of what you agree to when you buy an airline ticket. It's 36 pages long and has 127 articles plus an addendum.

Did you know you can check a bowling ball in addition to the three pieces of checked luggage you are allowed?

DataBind() says:

Interesting. If I have you sign a private contract with me when you enter my house, can you I have you arrested at the door for not honoring my house rules?

It's even hairer (constitutionally) when you consider you are being searched (at any time) by federal employees.

rnewhouse says:

Yeah, if I am willing to sign a contract with you upon entering your house, you can sue me for not following your rules, and you can make me leave or have me arrested for trespassing.

An airline doesn't arrest you for not following their rules, they just kick you off the plane. Hopefully they wait until the plane is on the ground to do it.

Wirehead says:

You guys are also missing the bit about it being a Federal regualtion that passengers are required to comply with instructions of cabin crew. The point of that particular rule is that, obviously, the primary purpose of the cabin crew is to usher screaming humanity from the flaming wreckage in a safe, orderly manner (as opposed to, say, bringing me some goddamn peanuts when I ask for them). Therefore, the cabin crew actually does have legal authority to do pretty much whatever they please. They can be called down for it afterward, but theoretically a stewardess could order you to spend the rest of the flight in the fetal position on the floor of the bathroom and you'd have to do it. You could sue her later, but you could also be arrested for not doing it at the time (obviously this would never happen, and the other stewards would probably tie up the one in question, but I wouldn't be surprised to find that something nearly that wacky had actually happened at some point).

Jackson says:

I've seen that come into play, too (following crew orders). We were once on a flight that had been delayed about 1/2 hour. I was sitting in front of a woman who called for a hostess, and then proceeded to chew her out for our delay. The hostess tried to politely calm the woman, but she was so nasty she got to the "what is your badge number?" threats and everything. As we were still at the gate, I quietly got up and went to the front of the plane. The pilot happened to be standing there with the remaining crew, and I briefly informed him of the rudeness of this passenger. He let me get back to my seat and sit there for several minutes before coming back to talk to the passenger. I couldn't believe how sharp he was with her - he basically told her in so many words that she was not to be rude to anyone on his plane or he would have her escorted off immediately. She was very quiet for the remainder of the flight.

DataBind() says:

Don't ship captains have similar powers?

dcormier says:

DataBind: Yes, I'm pretty sure they do. They may even have more powers than the captian of an aircraft over the US. I'd read this and poke around here to get a better idea, though.

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