The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has announced that we no longer need to switch our smartphones (and other personal electronic devices) to airplane mode. Instead, we'll be able to use our phones during any part of the flight, including take off and landing.
I don't know about you but I'm already missing airplane mode.
I'm awful at sitting still with nothing to do, so I often go for my phone to check the news and browse a few sites. This quick browse often leads to a number of emails sent, several social media posts and numerous texts. If I'm luck, a loved one will call, if I'm not then an insurance scam will. Before long a few hours and half my battery has gone.
Being on a plane with airplane mode switched on and my phone disconnected from the outside world allows me (and all the other passengers) to enter into a rare oasis of tranquillity where work emails, passive-agressive Facebook statuses and mundane phonecalls have all been banished.
We all know long haul flights are enough of an ordeal already, without the person next to you incessantly jabbering on the phone while battling for supremacy over the arm rest. Now that people won't need to put the phone down even briefly plane cabins could become even louder with the chatter of the air-borne cattle.
We won't even be able to rely on network drops to grant us respite. Many flights now come with on board connectivity, which isn't great news if you or your neighbour have a Wi-Fi calling-enabled phone and contract.
So even flying over the Bermuda Triangle (or other notorious network black spots like the South West of England) won't be enough to disturb the call. We'll have to use self discipline to pocket our phones, and who has any of that these days?
Using airplane mode also gives our devices themselves a bit of a break as well. With network and other battery-draining features turned off, they become little more than glorified watches, MP3 players and handheld games consoles.
This means that even after the longest flights we still usually end up with enough battery juice left for essential calls after we've cleared passport control.
Now that we'll have non-stop access to all the battery-draining delights our smartphones can offer we might see more people rushing to power sockets after they've disembarked, rather than to baggage claim.
At the moment it's up to the airlines to decide whether to allow non-stop use of smartphones during their flights, so I humbly ask them to say no! Keep the requirement for airplane mode! If not for safety, then for the sanity of its passengers.
Thankfully the US has, for now, remained undecided on the issue. But this decision by the EASA will almost certainly bring more attention to the question of in-flight calls.
I can only hope that possible plans to ban calls on US flights, as well as the attendants trying to make it a legal issue not to use them go ahead. The thought of a transatlantic flight sat next to an obnoxious phone user is enough to make me want to go by sea.
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