Say No to Air Talk

Kenneth Shapiro A couple weeks ago, a survey by the International Airline Passengers Association (IAPA) of frequent business travelers found that over half of respondents were against the introduction of in-flight cell phone use on commercial flights. Some airlines are testing this new technology for dep

By: Kenneth Shapiro

A couple weeks ago, a survey by the International Airline Passengers Association (IAPA) of frequent business travelers found that over half of respondents were against the introduction of in-flight cell phone use on commercial flights. Some airlines are testing this new technology for deployment later this year, and a third of all carriers are expected to allow cell phones onboard by 2007, according to IAPA.

Despite the fact that over 90 percent of those surveyed carry cell phones themselves, many of the comments indicated a strong belief that cell phone use would be irritating at the least and dangerous at the worst, contributing to “air rage.” In fact, 45 percent of respondents ranked listening to someone’s telephone calls as the second most irritating thing they can imagine on an aircraft (beating out snoring and crying children, but coming behind someone kicking the back of your seat).

Some of the respondents even said they would refuse to fly on an aircraft that offers cell phone service.

“Our research clearly demonstrates the opposition from our members to cell phones in-flight & and airlines should take note of the fact that the majority of frequent flyers seem to revel in the fact that flying offers them an escape from the constant tyranny of the cell phone,” said Nancy McKinley, manager of government and industry affairs for IAPA.

Unfortunately, the majority of U.S. airlines are not exactly known for responding to the wishes of their customers which in all likelihood means we’re destined to spend hours listening to other fliers’ soap operas from here to Timbuktu. The major carriers seem to make bad choices at every turn, so why should we expect anything different this time? Since we’re already paying more in “service” charges, as well as for food, movies and even pillows, it seems safe to say U.S. airlines have their own idea of customer service.

“We hope that airlines will take these comments into consideration when weighing the pros and cons of installing this facility onto their aircraft&,” said McKinley.

There’s always hope, but just in case, you might want to buy noise-canceling headsets before they sell out. K.S.

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