Thursday, May 26, 2011

Airplane mode does not equal off

Little rant coming on.

Whichever electronics maker first coined the term "Airplane Mode" should be forced to give all flight attendants $100. Why? Because many passengers say, "Oh it's in airplane mode so it's okay". It's not.

Flight attendants are governed by FAA policies. Advisory Circular 91-21.1B has the in's and outs. The basics is everything must be off. Nowhere in the circular is "Airplane Mode" mentioned. Off is off.

Unless you are an expert in electronics and have tested each device you carry to make 100% certain nothing is emitting from the device while in airplane mode, just turn the damn thing off. Hmm no not good enough....just turn the damn thing off.

It irks me when, right before or upon landing, I hear the clicking in my headset from GSM cell phones searching for a signal (CDMA doesn't do this). Is your life really that important you can't wait 30 second for the plane to clear the runway? Don't get me started how annoyed I get when I am in the cabin (deadheading/nonreving) and I see passengers turn on their cell phones right before/during touchdown.

I love electronics. I travel with a cell phone, Ipad, a Kindle and a Zune HD. All are turned off while I fly. Heck it saves battery life!

So in closing....dear traveling public turn your devices all the way off. Dear electronics makers....stop using the term "airplane mode."


  1. I've had this same conversation, as a passenger, with people sitting next to me.  It irks me as well.

    What is your opinion on sleeping a laptop.  I travel with a Macbook, and generally just close the lid.  As far as I know, the only thing being powered at that point is enough to keep the memory refreshed (and the pulsing white light whose purpose seems to be to keep me awake in hotel rooms).  Am I incorrect, and really should be shutting the machine down?

  2. GP, you're kind of glossing over the difference between takeoff/landing , when all devices must be completely turned off, and electronics use during cruise, when  the requirement is essentially that there are no radio transmissions.  That document you linked of course goes over all the specifics.   It's the "non critical phases of flight" that airplane mode is intended for, and in my experience the cabin crew briefing is usually clear that airplane mode must be enabled before turning off the device (prior to take off), so that it's enabled later when you turn the device on. 

    Of course, I guess the rant is about the people who never pay attention to the cabin crew briefings and think they're much more important because they're a frequent flier and have an important business deal to close or whatever.  I can see your point there.

    Brer, that's an interesting point as many modern electronics can't truly be turned off completely - there is often some electron flow powering a small area of the circuit responsible for keeping memory alive, keeping clocks going, etc.  The key question is whether the Macbook generates interference or not, and that's extremely difficult to know without extensive testing.  I personally would suggest you use "hibernate" mode instead where the machine is completely shut down (but the contents of memory saved to disk), that would be safer.  But I agree that sleep mode probably would never emit enough interference to cause any sort of problem.

  3. I hear you, loud and clear.  I do OFF Mode before I enter the tube and I keep everything that way until exiting, unless FA says that laptop Wifi is available.  (I won't pay for it, but if Wifi is available, then working in local mode is also OK.)  I can live without it and durring approach etc., nothing is on.  I used to have a cell phone that did not understand off, do I removed the battery.  I'm on your side, Geek - and my side, too.  Off means Fuc&$ng OFF!  Period!  If it clicks in your radio audio, it ought not to be there.  Off folks.  OFF and Dead Cold.  -C.


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