Civility, Selfishness and Digital Toys on Aircraft


Can we all agree the rules are stupid?

We are all made to shut down our digital toys before they close the door on our passenger jet. Never mind that a hearing aid probably generates more radio interference. Never mind that the pilot is using an iPad for checklists, navigation and probably texting his or her spouse. Never mind that most passengers can already recite the silly flight attendant sermon.

It’s absolutely true that the FAA hasn’t advanced a single credible reason for the prohibition on their use below 10,000 feet. Seriously, if they interfere with navigation then flying through the clouds at 10,000 feet is counterindicated. If you think WC is being harsh, read Nick Bilton’s essay in the New York Times.

But it’s still the rule.

It is utterly uncivil, supremely selfish, for one clod to continue chat on his or her cell phone, or play solitaire, or listen to tunes, while the other 120 passengers wait.

And egocentric, egoistic, egomaniacal, egotistic, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-concerned, self-interested, self-involved, self-seeking, self-serving, pompous, conceited, narcissistic, self-affected, self-applauding, self-conceited, self-concentered, self-indulgent, self-loving, stuck-up and vainglorious.

Does the jerk think his conversation with his brother is so important that it justifies annoying and inconveniencing everyone else of the aircraft. Is it really that important? It’s not about the illogic of the rules. We agree they are stupid. It’s about recognizing that you telephone conversation, your game, your tunes just might not be the most important thing on the aircraft.

Yes, we need to change the rule. The FAA has announced it will study the issue. But it hasn’t announced a time frame for a decision.

But can we bring a degree of civility to air travel in the meantime?

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