Skip to main content

Phone calls on planes? Please, no!

By Benét J. Wilson
November 22, 2013 -- Updated 2323 GMT (0723 HKT)
If you can get a 300-ton hunk of iron and aluminum into the sky, surely you can figure out a way for us to use our phones too?
If you can get a 300-ton hunk of iron and aluminum into the sky, surely you can figure out a way for us to use our phones too?
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • FCC is considering rules to allow the use of cell phone during flights
  • Benet Wilson: Letting passengers talk nonstop would be like being stuck in hell
  • She says the airplane is one of the few places where one can have some quiet
  • Wilson: There's no need to ruin anyone's flight with endless cellphone chatter

Editor's note: Benét J. Wilson is an aviation and travel journalist. She blogs at AviationQueen.com and has worked for two airlines and an aircraft engine manufacturer.

(CNN) -- As a long-time aviation journalist and regular traveler, I've been following the debate on whether the use of cell phones and other wireless devices should be allowed on airplanes.

And now that the Federal Communications Commission has said it will weigh in on the matter, let me add my voice to the growing chorus of those who are firmly opposed to the idea.

Letting passengers talk nonstop during flights would be like being stuck in hell.

Benét J. Wilson
Benét J. Wilson

Let me explain. I'm a working mother who is a student pilot and active in several professional and church activities. The airplane is one of the few places on (or over the) earth where I can sit quietly and not worry about answering or making phone calls.

In-flight calls: To talk or not to talk?

Yes, I have used airline WiFi to sneak in some work or surf the Internet, but mostly I put on my noise-canceling headphones and relax as much as one can on a commercial coach flight.

But all that peace would be ruined if cell phones were allowed to be used on planes. Could you imagine the cacophony of chatter you would hear on a Baltimore-to-Chicago flight? I can, because I've heard it already.

I used to take the Amtrak Acela train between Baltimore and New York City pretty regularly. On those rare occasions when I couldn't get a seat in the Quiet Car, it was sheer hell, even with headphones. I heard privileged conversations that would get lawyers fired. I listened to talk that wasn't fit for children under 17. I was forced to eavesdrop on people discussing personal, private matters -- all done in normal tones. And people didn't hesitate in trying to have their loud conversations even in the Quiet Car.

Follow us on Twitter @CNNOpinion

Join us on Facebook/CNNOpinion

Why can't you use your phone on a plane?
Cell phones take flight

So sit back, close your eyes, and imagine hearing all those conversations trapped in a high-speed metal tube flying between Washington and San Francisco, or New York to Paris. How many hours is that? Do you really want to hear the chatter of people sitting right next to you or 15 feet away? Even if the talks are muffled through your noise-canceling headphones, that doesn't make it any better. What if you just want to sleep through the flight? Or take a respite from the always-on connected life you have on the ground?

Travelers already get a sense of what this sounds like when a plane lands. You hear the chirps and beeps of phones turning on and snippets of conversation starting before the aircraft wheels have even touched the ground.

"YES, MOM, WE JUST LANDED." "I'LL MEET YOU AT BAGGAGE CLAIM 12. NO CLAIM 12! I'M HERE! WHERE'S THE PARTY?"

If I still haven't convinced you, then consider the flight crews who will be forced to referee any cell phone disputes. Despite what travelers may think, flight attendants are not there to help you with your bags or serve you drinks. They are actually there to ensure your safety on your flight. Safety could be compromised if flight attendants are too busy refereeing -- or not -- people who are fighting about loud conversations all around them.

Passengers are already on edge these days as civility in travel seems to have diminished greatly. Allowing the use of cell phones on flights will push us all closer to the cliff of our sanity.

So here's hoping the airlines and related aviation groups fire up their public relations machines to squash this idea and instead, urge the FCC to continue the inflight cell phone ban.

And travelers -- enjoy the down time. Listen to a podcast. Enjoy some music. Watch an in-flight movie. Play a game. The calls will be waiting for you when you land.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Benét J. Wilson.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1305 GMT (2105 HKT)
LZ Granderson says Congress has rebuked the NFL on domestic violence issue, but why not a federal judge?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1149 GMT (1949 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the only person you can legally hit in the United States is a child. That's wrong.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1723 GMT (0123 HKT)
Eric Liu says seeing many friends fight so hard for same-sex marriage rights made him appreciate marriage.
September 15, 2014 -- Updated 1938 GMT (0338 HKT)
SEATTLE, WA - SEPTEMBER 04: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell walks the sidelines prior to the game between the Seattle Seahawks and the Green Bay Packers at CenturyLink Field on September 4, 2014 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
Martha Pease says the NFL commissioner shouldn't be judge and jury on player wrongdoing.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
It's time for a much needed public reckoning over U.S. use of torture, argues Donald P. Gregg.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1225 GMT (2025 HKT)
Peter Bergen says UK officials know the identity of the man who killed U.S. journalists and a British aid worker.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1128 GMT (1928 HKT)
Joe Torre and Esta Soler say much has been achieved since a landmark anti-violence law was passed.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2055 GMT (0455 HKT)
David Wheeler wonders: If Scotland votes to secede, can America take its place and rejoin England?
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 1241 GMT (2041 HKT)
Jane Stoever: Society must grapple with a culture in which 1 in 3 teen girls and women suffer partner violence.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2036 GMT (0436 HKT)
World-famous physicist Stephen Hawking recently said the world as we know it could be obliterated instantaneously. Meg Urry says fear not.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2211 GMT (0611 HKT)
Bill Clinton's speech accepting the Democratic nomination for president in 1992 went through 22 drafts. But he always insisted on including a call to service.
September 12, 2014 -- Updated 2218 GMT (0618 HKT)
Joe Amon asks: What turns a few cases of disease into thousands?
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1721 GMT (0121 HKT)
Sally Kohn says bombing ISIS will worsen instability in Iraq and strengthen radical ideology in terrorist groups.
September 16, 2014 -- Updated 2231 GMT (0631 HKT)
Analysts weigh in on the president's plans for addressing the threat posed by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
September 11, 2014 -- Updated 1327 GMT (2127 HKT)
Artist Prune Nourry's project reinterprets the terracotta warriors in an exhibition about gender preference in China.
September 10, 2014 -- Updated 1336 GMT (2136 HKT)
The Apple Watch is on its way. Jeff Yang asks: Are we ready to embrace wearables technology at last?
ADVERTISEMENT