"… Casey, the iPhone user, told Consumerist that he tried several times to explain to the flight attendant that the iPhone was in "airplane mode," with all the radios disabled. But the flight attendants did not accept that explanation, and continued to insist that FAA regulations prohibit talking on cell phones when the cabin door is closed, despite the fact that Casey wasn’t actually talking and the fact they were over the middle of the Pacific Ocean."
This happened to me on a recent flight, without the detention part. I was tapping out an email on my iPhone and the flight attendent told me I couldn’t use my Blackberry. I explained to her that it was in "airplane mode" and that means the radio was off (skipping the fact that it was not actually a BB, figured that was too much data for her).
Not good enough for her, she then had the male flight attendent come down the aisle (I guess that is the good flight attendent bad flight attendent routine?) who again asked me to turn off my phone. Finally, after many futile attempts at explaining the aforementioned airplane mode, I just gave up.
It was kind of embarrassing because I generally don’t let the routine hassles of air travel stress me out, but these days any disuption on an airplane leaves people looking at you like you should be tazered and duct taped to the seat. (note to self: must get "don’t taz me bro" t-shirt.)
The guy that was seated across the aisle from me said "you would think that United would explain the basics of modern cell phones to their people, they should know better". He’s right, how frickin hard is it for United to inform their employees about something as basic as airplane mode?
Better yet, as Krazit suggests, let’s get a whole new model for dealing with this. Do airlines really expect me to believe that with tens of thousands of flights daily and no reported incidents of actual interferance from cell phones, that the reason cell phones are prohibited is becuase of safety concerns? Boeing’s Connexion wifi service could be retrofitted on existing planes without replacing or shielding all of the on board electronics, so clearly this isn’t a big deal.
When the FAA and FCC debated allowing cell phone use on airlines recently, the only protests were not safety related but customer annoyance. The fact that airlines in general should be newly concerned about customer satisfaction is in itself richly ironic.