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What Happens When You Don’t Turn Your Phone Off On A Plane

Will we ever have a clear answer?!
PHOTO: Pixabay

It’s the plea heard by air passengers all over the world: “Please turn off all electronic devices.” And you probably follow it, but do you know why? Something about “the signal,” right?

The flight rule about turning your gadgets off was adopted two decades ago “to protect against radio interference to cell phone networks on the ground.” The main concern is that cell phone signals might congest multiple network towers.

But some are arguing that with the advancement of technology, this rule is actually pretty archaic: “Technology that can be installed directly on an airplane is now available to prevent such interference and has already been deployed successfully in many other countries around the world without incident. This is purely a technical decision; it will, if adopted, allow airline carriers to be free to develop any in-flight phone usage policy they may wish, consistent with applicable rules.”


Even with the request, more than half of all phones aren’t put on flight mode, and nothing horrible has happened yet. In 2012, a study confirmed that there have been zero occurrences of cell phones “affecting flight safety on aircraft with on-board cellular telephone base stations.”

Surprisingly, passengers aren’t thrilled about the idea of people being allowed to make phone calls in-flight. In fact, most travelers see it as an annoyance more than a luxury of travel, which is totally understandable. It’s bad enough that we have to be locked with strangers in a flying tube for hours; can you imagine how irritating it’d be to sit next to someone who’s yapping on their phone the entire time? Hard pass.

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