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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
“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.