Passengers, keep those electronic gadgets off planes and prepare your expectations for landing

The US's Federal Aviation Authority is poised to approve all sorts of personal passenger gadgets for take off. Let's hope the UK's Civil Aviation Authority doesn't follow suit

Share

Technology addicts, rejoice! Soon you may no longer have to endure even a moment’s separation from your gadgets during air travel. The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) is set to relax the current ban on the use of laptops, tablets and the like during take-off and landing (though restrictions on internet use will remain in place for now, at least). It seems reasonable to expect the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) to soon follow suit. Here’s hoping it doesn’t.

Has new evidence on in-flight safety come to light? It has not. Instead, in a statement, the FAA attributes its regulations review to “intensely interested” consumer feedback. In other words, it gave in to pressure from pushy passengers. This debate is clearly short on hard, scientific evidence, so allow me to present my own anecdotal findings; these show a strong correlation between frequent flyer types (politicians, CEOs, Alec Baldwin – who was kicked off a flight for using his mobile phone) and people with an inflated sense of their own importance (politicians, CEOs, Alec Baldwin).

Those who oppose the ban call it arbitrary, and they do have a point. Vague claims of “electromagnetic interference” from airlines and the aviation authorities do sound suspiciously like a rejected Star Trek sub-plot, and those sturdy Boeing 747s seem unlikely to drop out of the sky just because an aisle seat passenger in row F sends a verboten text message. The FAA and the CAA have cited examples of aircraft navigation errors coinciding with the use of electronic devices, but neither body has yet offered evidence of a direct, causal link.

Still, the blanket ban isn’t in place because all electronic devices pose a grave threat to safety; it’s in place because some electronic device may pose a grave threat to safety – and that’s justification enough. The only truly safe alternative would be to individually test each new device for aircraft use – a costly measure that’s all but impossible for cabin crew to enforce. We’re all incredibly busy, extremely important people, of course, but is a few minutes of gadget-free peace in exchange for safer travel really such an insufferable imposition?

These points are soon to be lost amid the din of message-alert tones. No matter. Perhaps the greatest public good the ban offered was, in any case, dependent on passengers continuing to believe themselves at the mercy of the petty whims of despotic cabin crew. Now that the culture of consumer entitlement has spread into all sorts of inappropriate contexts, arbitrary rules are a useful reminder that the customer isn’t always right – not when the “customer” is also a “passenger”; one of several, in fact, who’ve all paid for experts to ensure their safety. Say what you like about the Ryanair experience, at least they treat passengers with the indifference we so clearly deserve.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

£27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Telemarketers / Sales - Home Based - OTE £23,500

£19500 - £23500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Experienced B2B Telemarketer wa...

Recruitment Genius: Showroom Assistant

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This global company are looking for two Showro...

Day In a Page

Read Next
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Rohingya migrants in a boat adrift in the Andaman Sea last week  

Burma will regret shutting its eyes to the fate of the Rohingya boat people

Peter Popham
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor