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Why can't You Use Your Cell Phone on an Airplane?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 16, 2024
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In 1991, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) banned passengers from using their cell phones while on board an airplane that is in flight. The ban was instituted because the FCC suspected that the radio frequency emitted by these phones could malfunction an airplane's equipment systems. In complying with this rule, different airlines have instituted different policies about when phones can be turned on and off. In 2005, the FCC announced that it might consider lifting the ban on the use of cell phones on airplanes, with certain restrictions.

The FCC regulates the use of all electronic devices, including mobile phones, on airplanes under the assumption that they may affect the communication systems on board. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) agrees with the FCC that these devices may cause substantial interference with aircraft systems and supports the ban for all commercially operated airplanes. The use of mobile phones on private or charter planes is not regulated, however, and many private flights permit passengers to use their phones while in flight.

Lots of debate has surrounded the use of cell phones on airplanes. The primary concern is that mobile phones may interfere with the navigation and communication systems of the plane, potentially resulting in devastating failure. Numerous airlines have reported disruptions in cabin pressure, compass function, and wireless navigation systems associated with the use of mobile phones on board. The FCC, it seems, erred on the side of caution when it enforced an outright ban on the use of radio frequency emitting devices which could potentially cause an aircraft to crash.

There have also been some reports that the use of cell phones on planes may cause disruptions in ground communications because of interference. Others claim that the airlines and the FCC would simply prefer that consumers use the telecommunications systems mounted on most seat backs in commercial airplanes, because these phones are said to be highly profitable. Newer phones are capable of operating on very low power settings, which may not interfere with the aircraft as much. The FCC is attempting to establish an acceptable threshold of radio frequency emissions, so phones could be used on airplanes without any fear of the navigation system failing or service on the ground being disrupted.

EasyTechJunkie is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a EasyTechJunkie researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments
By anon329157 — On Apr 08, 2013

Think logically. You're saying someone can bring down a multi-million dollar aircraft, with a $50 cell phone.

By anon328281 — On Apr 02, 2013

For who think cell phones won't work on an aircraft, stop, think and remember all those recordings from people who called loved ones from the flights on September 11, 2001. They weren't using the in-seat phones. 30,000 feet is under 6 miles of clear, unobstructed space between the phone and the tower. It is the obstructions at ground level that most often restrict range, not the distance.

By anderswe — On Mar 09, 2013

As an test engineer for computers, I have done testing in a room with an antenna "spraying" a computer with radio waves in the MHz band. The computer got "crazy" at certain frequencies. I think that airplane MUX systems are very well done, and are built with the highest possible protection to stop any radio waves to enter the computers and cause havoc.

But why take a risk, if radio waves would cause a computer to go crazy, and flip a wing flap when it's not supposed to. You will probably die. *You* are taking a chance with your life using your cellphone in a plane. All these people who never worked with computers and the problems with disturbance, incoming and outgoing (radiation). How is it that they can speak like they are experts? Also why are there not any aviation engineers speaking up about this? Or are these engineers so certain that they solved the problems, and the risk is zero, because they have protected the computers from everything?

My opinion is that all things man made can fail. So again....why take a chance?

By anon286554 — On Aug 21, 2012

Think logically. The reason for turning off you electronics is to keep you safe if the aircraft has any sudden malfunctions during take off or landing. By having electronics off and stowed, there is less chance of having metal projectiles striking passengers as the aircraft moves suddenly. All other reasons are crap. Take off and landing are the most dangerous times in a flight.

By anon284057 — On Aug 07, 2012

If you can't wait until you get to where you're going to talk to someone, you probably should not have left. Stay home next time.

By anon275357 — On Jun 17, 2012

Just look around and ask yourself how can a cellphone work on a airplane as it is not in reach of a tower to connect with? The plane is several thousand feet above the tower and in no way able to connect to talk to let anyone know what is going on. It is a scientific fact.

By anon255879 — On Mar 19, 2012

As a flight attendant, I would like to say it is not that necessarily that these devices will, every time, without a doubt interfere with communications/navigation. It is saying that it could. For that slight chance of crashing, I'd rather not. It's just not that serious to me to have my phone on. Also, there are two reasons that a flight attendant may not go overboard on telling people to turn off their phones. This is either because some flight attendants simply don't care, and the other is that we are informers and not enforcers.

If you're going to the bathroom when the seat belt sign is on (a federal law), and I make my announcement and you decide to walk in that lavatory anyway, and you get hurt, it's not on us anymore -- it is your fault, as long as we make our announcement.

By anon254307 — On Mar 12, 2012

That cellphones disrupt avionics and navigation systems is a myth was proven in one singular and spectacular instance: September 11, 2001.

Some of the passengers on those jets called their loved ones to say goodbye. Yet the planes all found their targets. What are the government's or airlines' rebuttal?

By anon236114 — On Dec 21, 2011

Most of the time the flight attendants won't even say anything if you're using your phone for texting while in flight as long as you don't have the sound on. If you were to make a call, that's a different story.

As a pilot, I can guarantee you that nothing will happen with the radios if you were to make a call, text someone, etc. other than the buzzing sound that you would hear if you had the phone next to something with a speaker like a TV.

By anon214158 — On Sep 13, 2011

Whatever effect the average cellphone has on a plane's electronics is apparently either a distraction, or a real problem, depending on what plane is being flown.

That said, a woman was recently ejected from a train for blathering loudly, despite requests for her to move, or keep it quieter, for four hours. Airplanes don't have that luxury.

Keep my flights quiet, and I'll keep my airplane-mode phone on silent as I play my games. If you can't live for that long without your cellphone, drive!

By anon169724 — On Apr 22, 2011

You can't use electronics during takeoff and landing because it distracts you from safety instructions in case of an emergency.

you can't use a cell phone because it would disturb other passengers (you probably don't want to be sitting next to someone talking loudly on their cell phone for three hours).

By anon166242 — On Apr 07, 2011

if you are a flight attendant then it is your job to deal with all of us "flyers'" questions. You get paid for it, so stop telling people to not ask you questions. that's like a janitor telling people to not fill up the trash can. With the shortage of jobs people have today I'm sure people would love to answer why they can't have a cell phone turned on all day, every day during their job.

P.S. mythbusters is a part of our censored media and also proved that we went to the moon and that ships do not pull down the water above them, etc. They do not follow scientific method and therefore it is just a TV show, like WWE wresting and tosh.0

By anon162798 — On Mar 24, 2011

I almost punched some fool who refused to stop using his cell phone while we were still a couple thousand feet in the air today! A plane crashed near Zurich and was found to be caused by cell phone interfering with the planes guidance system. The Mythbusters also confirmed this phenomenon as well.

The likelihood is extremely remote, but all I know is I will not stand for this anymore on a plane I am flying on. I asked nicely once today, he refused. I then told him turn it off or I break the phone into pieces and then I will bloody your moronic skull with my knuckles of fury if you refuse one more second. He hurriedly shut it off. Then some punkinhead behind me tried telling me us it was a crap and antiquated rule, and I told him I don't give a rat's arse, you turn your phone on while we are taking off or landing, I will bloody your freaking skulls.

I am so sick of these impatient people who think they are special that the rules don't apply to them. probably the same idiot who text driving down the highway at 75 mph that you see narrowly missing hitting people. If I could punch those people too, I would!

By anon161067 — On Mar 18, 2011

One important fact to add to the discussion is that many of the new pilot headsets now include either wired or bluetooth to connect to cell phones and make calls in flight. for example, look up the Bose x20 aviation headset. I have never noticed a problem with cell phones causing interference, but i only fly small aircraft. --

Private Pilot

By anon156245 — On Feb 26, 2011

There seem to be a lot of highly stereotyped responses here. I, for one, do not notice that people on cell phones talk any louder or any more obnoxious than any other people in public who are talking to each other. The only difference is that you can hear only one side of the conversation. If you never want to hear other people talking, then you are more than free to stay at home.

By anon154457 — On Feb 21, 2011

Fly Emirates. they allow phone calls using your cell Phone. no issue at all after 5 million calls.

By anon145089 — On Jan 21, 2011

Does anyone know if you can use your cell phone in an army plane?

By anon140690 — On Jan 08, 2011

So all of this sounds like if we're responsible with it, we can use certain elements of our phone in airplane mode? I can't think of any phone call that i really want to shout over jet engines for. I wouldn't mind listening to music or playing some cool games though.

By anon138085 — On Dec 30, 2010

It's not single cell phones that cause issues generally. It's when they all get together that they have enough signal being generated to cause interference.

By anon135917 — On Dec 20, 2010

Quit whining and crying like a bunch of little babies and turn it off. If you can't live without talking to your momma every time something doesn't go your way then stay home or take her with you.

Whether it's fact or not, if you risk my life, you just might eat your cell phone.

By anon134477 — On Dec 14, 2010

I am a flight attendant and would like to add my two cents' worth.

Yes, it is an FAA rule to shut off, not just put to sleep, your cell phone during taxi, take-off and landing. But the other reason is that taxi, take-off and landing are the most dangerous part of your journey on a plane. And if an emergency is happening, we as flight attendants, need 100 percent of passengers' attention.

If a large portion of passengers are on the phone and we have to run around the cabin getting everyone's attention to follow instructions, it could cost valuable minutes and possibly lives.

Just a side note: stop acting like seven year olds who were told to stop watching TV and having a hissy fit.

There are some things in life that do not make sense and that you will have to do anyway. Stop blaming the flight attendants for the FAA rule. Call or write to the FAA.

By anon128195 — On Nov 18, 2010

As a pilot I will go ahead and say that most phones do not make a lick of difference in the plane. However, a few do.

I was taking my father on a cross country flight the other day and my dad was doing business on his phone (so busy, ha ha) and I couldn't figure out why I could barely hear approach and they could barely hear me.

So after about 15 minutes, I asked my dad to turn his new Iphone off and voila! I was able to communicate again with approach. Coincidence? Maybe. but if it was the phone and I was in IMC that could have been fatal.

Sure, a phone in the back of a 747 might not make a difference but the FAA puts the rule in place for everyone, not just certain planes. It's universal.

By anon120217 — On Oct 20, 2010

This is honestly the silliest excuse I've ever heard. The article states that they do it because they fear it can interfere with navigation and communications equipment. Seems like a pretty big deal, right? Could potentially cause a crash, right? If it was that damn important then they better start frisking people that get on the plane.

We really want to take a chance of a plane wreck because some distracted flyer in seat 17C forgot to turn off his phone? If it really did cause problems, you would be allowed to take them on the plane period. Just a stupid excuse. Why I'm not sure, but just doesn't make sense.

By anon109977 — On Sep 10, 2010

forget about banning cell phones-- how about banning crying children.

By anon108586 — On Sep 03, 2010

listen people. if it did interfere with equipment, then tell me why don't terrorists just go on a plane and phone everyone? it's nothing to do with safety, otherwise they would take all the phones away on flights. trust me. it's more of a money issue.

By anon105720 — On Aug 22, 2010

I have been told that the reason phones are not to be used is something to do with the phone companies not being able to charge the consumer. This is due to the land based towers not registering your calls?

Who really knows? That's the way they like it.

By anon103355 — On Aug 12, 2010

So, there is mostly debate about whether it's safe or not. We'll call that a tie.

It seems that everyone agrees that it would be a complete circus if people were allowed to talk on cellphones in flight, if it were possible. Can you imagine that? Air travel can be stressful for some, so add an already tense situation and let people blabber about it on their cellphones?

Besides, people would then abandon all other forms of in-flight entertainment and simply gab the entire time on flights. No thanks.

By anon86068 — On May 23, 2010

In my opinion you should be able to have your phone on if you want as long as it's in airplane mode so then you don't get texts or calls but could like take pictures or something or play games.

By anon73302 — On Mar 26, 2010

The FAA, FCC, FDA, USDA, EPA, etc., etc. are all about profit over people. They don't care about you or your safety. "Regulatory agencies" just continue to strip us of our freedoms day after day, while we sit back apathetically and comply.

Maybe we should all just start flying naked with no carry-ons. Will that be "safe" enough? Please, please wake up people. Let's break down the evil, error, I mean veil of fear that has been methodically placed between us and them and begin taking the power back. When is enough enough?

By anon71632 — On Mar 19, 2010

You can't use your cell phones in the air because the providers can't bill you correctly. The speed at which you are traveling causes jumps between cell towers and you can't be tracked to bill your time.

I agree with a previous comment that air rage would be more prevalent if these blue tooth people were allowed to carry on their silly conversations.

By anon69210 — On Mar 06, 2010

Must be a competition between the cool jet pilot and the super smart engineer. lol

By anon59890 — On Jan 10, 2010

To the military aviator who thinks the safety issue is crap - you may know how to fly your F/A-18, etc., but you obviously know little about radio frequency propagation, electronics, or aircraft/communications engineering. You really should confine your opinions to subjects that you are knowledgeable of, and not demonstrate your ignorance of areas better left to the trained engineers.

By anon59887 — On Jan 10, 2010

Also, your cell phone will not function above a certain altitude in any case. The land-based cell sites use sectorized and directional antennas that concentrate their radio frequency signals towards the ground.

Using an antenna that transmitted into the air would be a waste of transmitter power, since the (presumed) users are on the ground. Interference with aircraft radio and electronic equipment is also a concern, but that decision (whether or not a particular electronic device can be used in an airplane) is left (by Federal Aviation Regulations) to the pilot in command.

The rule against airborne use is an FCC rule (Part 21, I believe). One of the other commenters remarked that the cell sites radiate signals into the air. This is not true, the system engineers and antenna designers purposely design them so that most of the energy is radiated towards the ground, to cover the designed ground service volume of the particular cell site.

As I had said, radiating into the air would be a waste of transmitter energy. - Michael, Ph.D., Electrical Engineering, Senior Member, IEEE, Commercial Pilot.

By anon59863 — On Jan 10, 2010

Simple, because if they let them be used on a plane, after hearing the inane drivel that most morons yatter about you're going to get air rage at 38,000 ft. Now that's a real safety issue. We've managed to get to this point of human existence without it, and let's keep it that way.

You can manage a flight without a phone surely. Or is that in the same ranks of people who 'have' to bring an entire make up /toiletries bag and change of clothes? What are you expecting? Surprise make over or something?

By anon59834 — On Jan 10, 2010

I am a military aviator. I have flown thousands of hours and my electronic warfare officer has pumped tons of transmissions on multiple frequencies into the air.

Unless he was transmitting on a frequency that our radar or the ILS (Instrument Landing system) was operating on (which cell phones don't either) there was never an issue. The rule is crap. it's driven by some agreement between the airline, FAA and the FCC that has nothing to do with aircraft safety.

By anon59832 — On Jan 10, 2010

I'm a commercial pilot. When people leave their cell phones on, we can hear it in our headphones as an annoying clicking sound. Not a huge deal, but mildly annoying in the flight deck.

So, in order to ensure the safest operation of the flight, please turn off your cell phones when the cabin door closes (that's when I'm calling ground for taxi clearance).

By anon59831 — On Jan 10, 2010

Do you really need to have your cellphone on during a flight anyway? I know, I know, what if it's an "important" business call or if the plane is late and we want to call our ride.

Those are all factors someone who is organized and prepared to travel can have contingencies in place before they take off! I don't buy into the theory that anyone needs to be "in constant contact".

Turn off your cellphone and enjoy the flight.

By anon59830 — On Jan 10, 2010

Cell phones have been in use on corporate aircraft since the late sixties. The cell towers are 150 to 300 miles apart which requires much greater transmitting power than cell phones of today. That totally debunks the claims about interfere with communications and navigation systems aboard the aircraft.

The truth is that nobody has ever really studied it or measured the amount of interference. There simply isn't any real data. Any cell phone service installed on an aircraft has to be certified by the FAA by way of an STC or Supplemental Type Certificate which is an expensive process.

Boeing and Airbus both formed companies ten years ago that certified installations for their aircraft, but with the industry downturn after 9/11 they couldn't get airlines to buy it and junked the programs because they were not profitable.

As for using your own cell phone aboard, the FAA hides behind a lack of data and there is no one to pony up the money to study it.

By anon59829 — On Jan 10, 2010

1) Who wants to be trapped for hours with people jabbering on cell phones?

2) There is almost no vertical component to cell signals. Cells are designed for communication within a tightly defined area around the tower for frequency reuse. A cell phone at altitude would be trying to light up thousands of cell towers even if:

3) Even at max power, the cell phone's transmitter output would be greatly attenuated, add to this the distance (30000 ft = >4 miles)

4) There is some credence to the possibility of interference with nav, comms, or flight management, as the possible frequencies resulting from the heterodyning or combining a number of cell phone transmitters is incalculable.

5) There is some credence to the idea that the carriers want to force you to use the hideously expensive in flight phone service. However, you will find that most of these systems were deemed unprofitable and have been deactivated.

6) Some carriers have installed Wireless access points for computers. There is a better handle (control) of the system and the power level of laptops is way lower than that of a cell phone trying to connect.

Some ports such as gaming and VOIP are blocked, but my Vonage USB key phone has worked well. But I've used it only for a bona fide business emergency.

7) The "Airplane Mode" on cell phones merely shuts down the transmitter and receiver. It does not stop the CPU, so one can still use the other non wireless functions.

8) And who wants to be trapped for hours listening to mutts yammer on cell phones, especially the ones who think you have to yell into a cell phone?

By anon59824 — On Jan 10, 2010

question: if you can use your scanner to hear the airline pilots, why doesn't the radio frequencies affect them?

By anon59823 — On Jan 10, 2010

Part of it is cause they want you to use their credit card phones and rack up your already expensive ticket.

I can understand the being polite and not yapping on a phone, while your neighbor is trying to rest. However they should allow texting. You know come up with a certain freg to use for that on aircraft. I always turn mine off or on flight mode tho and try to relax or play a game on my laptop. hmmm do they allow internet? Never thought of that. wonder why they make me turn off my cd player though. It's not the radio.

By anon59820 — On Jan 10, 2010

obviously, cell phones don't cause anything to happen to the plane they are on. During 911, the fellow on the plane that crashed in Pennsylvania used his phone, didn't he?

By anon59819 — On Jan 10, 2010

I'll be honest my cell is one that has airplane mode. By the way: airplane mode or flight mode turns off the signal detection so you can't get text message or make out going calls. It turns off what the FCC wants off so the phone can be used for anything that does not need a signal.

Past that i have left my cell on in many flights not in airplane mode.

1 you don't get a signal at 30,000 feet. sorry cell signal towers don't broadcast up they broadcast out. As a matter of fact, if you're next to a cell tower you get the worst signal because you're too close to the tower and it does not broadcast up or down. it broadcasts at maybe a 45 degree angle down.

I have left my cell on during flights. i have sprint and i get no signal.

As we approach the airport texts start flooding in and that's when we are closer to the ground.

Cells don't cause issues with planes.

But if we do want to use our phones on a plane they will need some sort of repeater to repeat the signal in the air. They will probably charge you money to use their repeater.

If you go on a cruise it's the same thing: your cell works but if you call your carrier they will tell you that it only works through the ship's repeaters and it's like a roaming charge for calls texts and data are high and the cruise line make the money off of it, not your carrier.

Everyone has headsets. i don't think it would be an issue to talk on an airplane but remember the engine is very loud in the air, so you will have to talk louder for the person you call to hear you, which could be really rude and end up really loud in the plane if everyone does that.

Personally i'd like texting and internet to work on cells in the air so we can have some entertainment or even WIFI so we can use our laptops with head phones. Maybe a power plug by our seat so we can also plug them in.

By anon59817 — On Jan 10, 2010

Let's see: There are literally thousands of cell phone towers constantly broadcasting on the ground. Let's assume a five-mile range on a cell tower (it's actually more). That five-mile range extends up as well as out. Any airplane less than 25000 feet is being bombarded by cell phone transmissions from every tower in the area. The small transmitter in a phone won't significantly add to that.

This is an FCC regulation, in place because your cell phone switches towers so rapidly on an airplane that it's difficult to track and bill your call, as well as the loss of revenue from the seat back phones.

By anon59816 — On Jan 10, 2010

A cell phone's "Airplane Mode" when on, turns off the phone's transmitter, thereby rendering it harmless to any of the plane's communication capabilities.

However, the airlines should continue to disallow the use of all phones in flight simply as a matter of courtesy to the passengers who do not want to hear the person next to them talking throughout the flight. There is simply no other way to regulate courtesy other than to enforce a policy. And rather than call it something else, call it just that: a courtesy to others around you. You can control rudeness with policies.

By anon59814 — On Jan 10, 2010

I am a flight attendant. We are taught that the use of cell phones is banned especially during early parts of flight because that's when most of the safety information is being given. They are afraid people will be distracted by talking on a phone or listening to an iPod and therefore not listen to the safety announcements. It's more of a distraction thing than it is a technical matter.

So if your flight attendant asks you to turn something off, please do! :o)

By anon59812 — On Jan 10, 2010

I am totally against cell phones on any airlines. To answer another person's comment that being on a cell phone is no different than talking to the person next to them does not hold up.

For the past ten plus years I have been on a commuter train and the lack of concern shown by cell users to their fellow passengers is legendary. Often they will shout and not talk into the cell phone while this behavior is absent on person to person conversations. Rarely have I ever observed two persons shouting at each other, other than when they are drunk, not so with cell phone users.

In one case a cell phone user when an emergency instructions was being transmitted over the trains intercom refused to stop talking and override the announcements. Imagine this behavior on a plane.

By anon59811 — On Jan 10, 2010

If the FCC and FAA would just watch MythBusters they would now that it would take a specialized phone that would have to be next to the equipment to even make a minor difference in its reading. They went to every extreme to see if the could mess with the instruments.

And while we are at it, shooting a hole in the skin of the aircraft will not make it explode like the movies. They busted that one too.

By anon59810 — On Jan 10, 2010

Good grief. I can't imagine anything worse that some knucklehead sitting next to me and talking loudly for hours. I have had this experience on the train. A clod calling one friend after another and saying "guess where I am calling from" would keep me from flying.

By anon59806 — On Jan 10, 2010

I never understood how I was going to get a cellular signal at 30,000 feet up in the air when I can't even get one in my living room anyway.

By anon59804 — On Jan 10, 2010

you can't get signal from being up that high in the air anyway. the only reason the 9/11 flight was able to make calls was because they were low enough to the ground. The fact that this theory about jamming equipment is crap.

By anon59802 — On Jan 10, 2010

Why all this fuss, when cellphones won't work anyway at most points of a flight? The antennae on cell towers are not aimed at the sky, so they cannot receive signals except from 'phones on planes at very low altitudes.

By anon59801 — On Jan 10, 2010

Maybe one or two phones would not be a problem, but what about a hundred or more on at the same time?

By anon59800 — On Jan 10, 2010

Cell phones must also be turned off in all air traffic control facilities in the US. This restriction is do to the interference they cause to the communications system.

The interference is similar to the buzzing you may have heard out of some near-by speakers when your cell phone is about to ring, or receiving a text message.

Is a cell phone going to bring a plane down - not likely.

Can it cause interference - Yes. But as someone else has mentioned - Boeing and the rest of the aircraft equipment manufactures spend a great amount of time protecting their systems from interference.

By anon59788 — On Jan 10, 2010

The first time I encountered the "no cell phone" rule was a few weeks after an episode of LA Law in which one of the lawyers was stuck on a commercial jet on the tarmac for hours. He complained to the lady sitting next to him and she produced her bag phone which he used to call his office.

One of his law partners went to the federal courthouse and got a writ of habeas corpus against the airline. The airplane came back to the terminal. The lawyer was arrested for air piracy.

At a court hearing the judge ruled against the airline and the federal officers saying he too had been "held against his will" by airlines. So by making the "no cell phone rule" the passenger can now be held against his will on an airplane without recourse.

By anon59785 — On Jan 10, 2010

Another reason cell phones, and all other electronic devices are supposed to be turned off on an aircraft is for safety, not because of their effects on onboard systems, but because of the distraction to the passenger using them.

95 percent of all accidents occur below 10,000 feet and during takeoff. Because of this, it is considered a critical stage of flight on a

commercial aircraft.

I'm a flight attendant and my job is to make sure I can safely evacuate all of you, be there 50 people on board or 300+, in less than 90 sec. Seat backs and tray tables need to be up, and carry ons stowed, as well, so that there is nothing blocking your quick and safe exit. If you're listening to your mp3 player or watching a video on your computer or phone, you are distracted and/or can't hear me telling you how to get out of the aircraft, or when for that matter.

Those folks in the exit row might 'notice' that the aircraft stopped abruptly after having aborted takeoff, and panic and blow a window exit, which you should never do until the engines are off. (People Pate anyone?) If you're chatting away and ignoring your surroundings, how am I supposed to make sure you get off OK? Most people will never experience an emergency on an aircraft; it is still the safest way to travel, but on the chance that your next flight does, is it really that big a deal to turn them off until you reach 10,000 ft?

It's all of 10 minutes, if that long, and then, with flight mode on, you can use your cell phone's many other fun features until, once again it's time to descend below that 10,000ft level.

By anon59783 — On Jan 10, 2010

I have been a private pilot off and on for 35 years (Yes I am a proud geezer!) and have used brick cell phones up to my current iPhone.

Most pilots use VFR and do not rely solely on their avionics. In all my years I have never seen my avionics affected by cell phones.

I also know that when you cruise above 15,000 feet there is virtually no cell-phone coverage anyway! This is a non-issue for all intents and purposes.

By anon59782 — On Jan 10, 2010

When operating my wireless speakers or my FM transmitter for my iPod, I will always experience interference when a cell phone within 15 feet of the units rings. I suspect the same interference can occur in the various radios used in aircraft. The safe bet is to turn off your cell phone.

By anon59780 — On Jan 10, 2010

I agree with the ban to use cell phones on flights. Can't you people just shut up long enough to take a flight?

By anon59779 — On Jan 10, 2010

There are some very practical reasons for prohibiting cell phones on aircraft:

-- some people have no sense of manners and will talk loudly and for long periods to the annoyance of other travelers.

-- people will talk through flight crew announcements and won't hear what is being communicated.

-- on long night flights many passengers just want to get some rest and peace.

By anon59777 — On Jan 10, 2010

I'm an airline pilot. I have flown over 250,000 miles this year. From time to time I try to use my cellphone at altitude. No one can get a signal at any altitude above about 8000 feet. You cannot make a call from an airliner at altitude. It will not hold a signal. Try it sometime.

By anon59774 — On Jan 10, 2010

I think we should use self-discipline, if there is such a thing anymore, and just obey the rules. It's not going to hurt anyone not to use a cell phone for a few hours.

If there's an emergency, we can do anything about it 30,000 ft. in the air. We've become too dependent on them. We need to stop!

By anon59773 — On Jan 10, 2010

Cell phones should not even be allowed on a commercial flight. Most flights are long and boring without the added aggravation of having to listen to a one way conversation.

By anon59771 — On Jan 10, 2010

You can use cell phones on airplanes. Emirates now allows cell phone use for calls and text messages on their flights - provided your service providers auto-roaming service includes the system Emirates use their in-flight cell phone calling.

By anon59770 — On Jan 10, 2010

It is regulated on private planes and is due to phone system tie up. They should change the article.

By anon59769 — On Jan 10, 2010

The old cell phones actually did interfere with the electronics if there were close enough to the instrumentation. Today's cell phones have not interfered with the electronics when tested in the same manner as the older phones were.

However, I'm not sure I want to be on a plane with 300 people talking loudly on their cell phones. Have one sitting at the next table in a restaurant is bad enough.

Ex FAA Official

By anon59766 — On Jan 10, 2010

There are records of people calling from aircraft and it has not caused any problems.

In my humble opinion, I believe cell phones should be banned from aircraft mainly for the possibility of misuse for bad reasons and the rudeness they create. Nobody needs to listen to some loudmouth on their phone for the whole flight. People with cell phones are inherently rude.

Restaurants are full of rude loud mouth cell users. By the way: I use a cell phone for business over 3,000 minutes a month.

By anon59765 — On Jan 10, 2010

I don't think that worries about interaction with all the systems on board is bogus. Hospitals also ban cellphones outside of certain contained areas. They are clearly concerned that cellphones may interfere with their sensitive equipment.

In addition, having airborne calls act as a disruptive agent in the communication system down below is more than valid.

If both of these concerns were able to be entirely solved, with passengers stuffed in like sardines these days, I still would opt out of allowing verbal cellphone use. As loud as most people talk on their cellphones, fights would likely break out.

By anon59764 — On Jan 10, 2010

I don't know about others, but I have never been able to get a cell signal at 20,000 feet. I don't think any conversation would be very reliable.

By anon59763 — On Jan 10, 2010

I vote the ban is kept regardless of whether or not it interferes. Flights are the only time during which I am not at all required to answer my cell, respond to e-mails, etc. I know many business people who love the break from the tether of the cell.

By anon59762 — On Jan 10, 2010

anon38488: The Airplane mode shuts off all incoming and out going RF from your cell phone, you cannot call, text, or surf the web while in airplane mode.

Having worked extensively on avionics systems and having kept my cell phone on, and even made calls and sent texts while running these systems on newer and older cell phones, I highly doubt that even having a multitude of phones on and running aboard a flying aircraft will do anything to harm the systems or the flight.

This seems like the old cell phone gas pump myth. That if you make a call or get a call while pumping gas it could ignite the fumes. It may have an affect on the cell phone service of people on the ground though, I could see 300 people traveling at 500 mph jumping from tower to tower could cause issues. But as for a danger to the plane? No way, I highly doubt that.

The author cited something about changes in cabin pressure due to cell phone use, but that's probably one of the biggest coincidences I've ever heard of. It's not like cabin pressure is regulated by RF signals that can be interfered with. I almost laughed at that.

By anon59758 — On Jan 10, 2010

anyone ever notice that you do not get a signal when you are 5 miles up?

By anon59756 — On Jan 10, 2010

The flight mode turns off cellular transmission while allowing other functions, such as browsing images, playing games, using the calculator, etc.

By anon59751 — On Jan 10, 2010

I am a Navy Loadmaster and have done other jobs on other aircraft. There are a few things that people don't think about with cellular use in the airplane.

I get a very minor disturbance in my headset if someone is to close to me with their cellular on the same as you would with it next to your computer, mainly because I have the Bose active noise cancelling headsets, if the noise cancelling is off it doesn't interfere.

Now I am in a King Air 200 right now and the passengers are very close but in a commercial aircraft they are far enough behind the cockpit that there would be no interference on ICS (intercommunication system) just like taking your cell further away from your TV or computer.

I use mine in flight, but the one thing you have to think about is most GMRS cell phones only transmit line of site and on closer to a flat line transmission. My phone hardly ever works above 3,000 feet. My old analog Nokia brick used to work over 10,000 feet, it had more transmission power and transmitted kind of spherically. No phone I have had has ever interfered with any aircraft system.

As far as a ban from the FCC and FAA I think it is either overcautious or to line the pockets of those airplane phone companies.

By anon59750 — On Jan 10, 2010

How come when i flew to vegas last month that the airline allowed the use of cell phones while in flight? However, when i tried to use my cell phone i could get no service at all as the service area constantly changed?

By anon59747 — On Jan 10, 2010

Plus cell phones can let people know of potential danger such as the passengers that communicated with their familes during 9/11 and found out they were being used to blow up buildings. Just imagine if the plane in Pennsylvania had not had communication with their loved ones!

By anon59740 — On Jan 10, 2010

Cell phones should be banned on all public transportation. Sitting near someone gabbing on a cell phone is annoying!

Listening to a one sided conversation is like listening to a lecture.

You can't read, can't sleep. People babble on and on about mindless personal crap.

Twenty percent of all cell phone calls in public are bogus. They are trying to impress people. In reality, they are just annoying and make you want to smash the damn things. Legalize cell phone jammers!

By anon59735 — On Jan 10, 2010

Bottom line is: cell phones don’t affect airline functions, and no personal phone call is so important that you have to bother fellow passengers with your cell phone talk.

By anon59733 — On Jan 10, 2010

I am a commercial pilot. I have only experienced issues with radio communications as a result of cell phones.

Much like setting your cell phone next to your speaker before it rings, your speaker starts acting up. Some may say it's not a big deal but when you are at busy airports like O'Hare, hearing instructions from ground control is very important.

I don't think people should be paranoid but I am speaking from first hand experience.

By itsmattmp — On Jan 10, 2010

How is hearing someone on the airplane talk on her cell phone any different than hearing her talk to the person in the seat next to her?

I think people have developed grudges against cell phones because of potentially rude ways they're used. But it's not the simple act of having a conversation that is rude. Having a cell phone conversation on an airplane could be just as polite as talking to the person in the seat next to you, so long as you respect the person on the other side by not talking too loud or too long.

Also, don't use it as a way to ignore the person next to you as that would also be rude. But really, people just need to be as polite as they always should be by thinking about the comfort of the person next to them and balancing that person's interests with their own.

By anon59727 — On Jan 10, 2010

i actually know a pilot and he said that depending on how high your altitude is and where you are (ocean or land) cell phones may or may not pick up anyway. towers only go so far into the atmosphere just like on land.

By anon59725 — On Jan 10, 2010

I am also a commercial pilot in the corporate field. There are systems currently being used to allow cell phone usage during high altitude cruise flight. Several European airlines are allowing it now.

It has never been 'proven' that a cell phone will degrade cockpit avionics. To error on the safe side is the best. Plus, so far, there has not been a deal struck as to how each airline, cell service, etc will get their cut of the fees. I believe this is the larger problem. Just my opinion.

By anon59722 — On Jan 10, 2010

The ban of cell phone use during flight is only an age old stupid idea. Those flight equipments including those ground controllers goes to a stringent test during design which inludes RF immunity. This means all possible signals where used to bombared those equipments to see what will be the effects on its operation.

Mind you, the test is really tough and it won't really happen on a real world. I think it's the best time to start using those things so that you can use it against terrorists. Take a picture of the guy with the thing strap on his body and send it to the guys down for them to analyze if it's bogus or not. If bogus, then kick the guy's butt. Get my point?

By anon59718 — On Jan 10, 2010

Has anybody thought about the fact that cellphones don't work at 39,000 feet? The way things are right now, passengers are allowed to use cellphones on board the planes at the terminal and during taxiing upon arrival.

If, after debating about conspiracy theories regarding in flight phones which work with satellites (not earth bound cell towers) and pressuring the FCC to allow cellphone use, won't we look great trying to use our cellphones at 39,00 feet?

Cell towers typically have a coverage radius of less than 15,000 feet, and I've never heard of a radio engineer designing cell towers that direct energy vertically upwards at passing aeroplanes, let alone that they signal wouldn't reach the distance anyway. Or am I missing some other inane point in this discussion?

By anon59716 — On Jan 10, 2010

It will be a sad day for the remnants of the civilized world when cell phones are allowed during flights.

Cell phones should not be allowed on planes for any safety related reasons but for the same reason you should have the manners and courtesy to not use a cell phone in a restaurant: it’s rude, annoying, disruptive to others and no one wants to hear your conversation. Fortunately any decent restaurant in London will not permit a cell phone in the restaurant. They will ask you to leave if it rings. And well they should.

This same courtesy should be expected on planes. Having cell phone free planes is one of the last peaceful pleasures remaining. People have become so addicted to talking on their phones and texting and not for business or emergency purposes but for entertainment. There is absolutely no need for anyone to have use of a cell phone in flight.

Anyone that claims they need cell phone access in flight for any reason is not considering that we got along just fine before there were any cell phones. If they can’t make it the length of any U.S domestic or international flight with out use of their phone then they have personal dependency issues that need addressing.

By anon59715 — On Jan 10, 2010

I think it's obvious the real reason to ban cell phones is to avoid chaos on board flights from fights, shouting matches and the anguish and anger that go along with it that results from the poor traveler who gets blows up at the long-winded, loud mouth seated next to him who yells into his phone for two solid hours.

I predict lots of fights. Think of the potential liability. Right now, flights are relatively restful and quiet, compared to what they could be.

By anon59714 — On Jan 09, 2010

If you have ANY doubt as to whether or not cell phones can interfere with communications I have a test for you. Next time you get a call hold your phone up to the radio while tuned into an AM station. You will hear the static. Now the chances of this interfering enough to cause and aircraft to crash is very remote but then again, do you want to take that chance just to make a call?

By anon59713 — On Jan 09, 2010

so glad no cell phones on flights. i travel daily for work and senseless chatter by people around me is something i can go without. people are not respectful in lines at the store and shopping malls. stay strong no cell phones. a four hour flight without chatting will not harm you.

By anon59710 — On Jan 09, 2010

The funny thing is that I have enver been able to get service on a plane while 30000 feet in the air. Cell phone service does not reach that high.

By anon59709 — On Jan 09, 2010

If cell phones actually interfered with anything whatsoever, then why is Al Quaida trying to use explosives instead of just turning on their cell phones during takeoff and landing? The truth is that airlines don't know how to charge people for cell phone usage in flight and, therefore, have no reason to let you talk in flight.

By anon59708 — On Jan 09, 2010

Why aren't they allowed? Ask the airline who their service provider for the phones on the back of every seat is. I'm sure they could tell you.

By anon59707 — On Jan 09, 2010

As a former airline employee I agree with all the statements that illuminate this rule as being about revenue and ground cellular disruption. I have flown with pilots who use their cell phones while passengers are prohibited.

That said, I am not for cell phone use on airplanes. People don't have the common courtesy to use their indoor voice when at the gate. I fear I could strangle my neighbor if they talked that way for four hours and within a foot of my ear.

By anon59706 — On Jan 09, 2010

i totally agree with all arguments --very valid points were made. but in the end i don't want to be seated on a plane for 12 hours listening to 150 people talking about nothing important. i have to live through that every day riding public transportation in the city. i say keep the ban so the public can have some privacy.

By anon59705 — On Jan 09, 2010

I have witnessed the VM notification of T-Mobile phones interferes with the reception of VHF radio. Every time that VM reminder goes off I can hear it in my headset.

By anon59704 — On Jan 09, 2010

They don't work up high, moving too fast between towers. They would cause serious disruptions in the plane. People wouldn't listen to instructions, And could you imagine wanting to sleep and having some moron on his phone talking about his proctology exam? Fights would definitely break out. These are two major safety reasons.

By DrMattB — On Jan 09, 2010

Text messaging should be allowed. It's not a continuous transmission and therefore not as disruptive to the ground cellular system. Also, your fellow passengers wouldn't hear you talking if all you're doing is texting.

By anon59701 — On Jan 09, 2010

Just to set the recvord straight it really has about 30 percent to do with planes and 70 percent to do with cell towers.

When on the ground with your cell phone you will really contact a few towers with your signal. When in an airplane if you call your signal will transmit to hundreds of towers thus overloading receivers at the towers on the ground. Now imagine hundreds of cell phone calls from planes the system will basically "freak out " with the overload of signal. occupation RF engineer.

By anon59700 — On Jan 09, 2010

Is talking on cell phones really that much louder than talking to the person next to you?

And if noise is the issue, why not at least allow texting?

By anon59699 — On Jan 09, 2010

It is funny, I deal with this type of thing every day. Commercial air navigation and communications run at completely different frequency bands than cellular. The FCC, being communications, has sectioned off certain ranges for commercial airline communications as well as navigations. Our cellular phones that we use in North America generally run off 900 or 1800 Mhz, neither band is anywhere near the commercial communications and that is because at such high frequencies, communication emissions cannot travel very far. Just think about how you lose signal very quickly on your phone as you are driving away from a cell tower.

As for the navigation systems, they are given certain ranges as well.

Its a big bogus bunch of crap. I have seen cellular use and wireless use on-board with no issues. It doesn't happen, never will, enough said.

By anon59698 — On Jan 09, 2010

I am a consulting engineer in avionics, communications, and signal processing, after having been with Bell Labs for 23 years.

You can't use your phone aboard an aircraft in flight because the land-based cellular systems' high capacity is based upon a relatively short reach of your handset to the nearest cell site. Airborne use results in many (perhaps hundreds) of cell sites receiving your signal, which denies the use of those channels to other users. It is easy to see how this would rapidly diminish the capacity and performance of the system (actually, several or many systems). Regards, Michael, Ph.D., Electrical Engineering.

By anon59697 — On Jan 09, 2010

There's nothing at all wrong with being disruptive, arrogant and disrespectful of the rest of society. Sometimes that's a good thing.

That said, though, I have to agree with anon that it's nice not to have to put up with other people's phone calls during a four-hour flight. Bad enough to put up with other *people* during the flight, even without the phone calls.

By anon59696 — On Jan 09, 2010

Fellow passengers do not want nor need to hear hundreds of cell phone calls going on around them during the duration of the multiple hours spent captive in such a small space.

As an extremely frequent flyer I vote for no cell phones during flight. Flying is aggravating enough as it is. People get a life. We spent centuries without cell phones. Your life will still continue with a few hours without idle banter!

By anon59695 — On Jan 09, 2010

I for one agree with banning cell-phone use on planes. Not for reasons electrical failure to their use, more so for the fact that I do not want to spend hours on a plane listening to some person speaking aloud.

I enjoy the peace of sitting on a plane and not being surrounded by conversation. Imagine how annoying it would be if all passengers were on their phones at the same time. I'll pass on that one.

By anon59692 — On Jan 09, 2010

OK. I've heard some sensible comments, and some ill-considered comments from some people who think they know it all but clearly don't. I am an airline pilot, and I've flown several types of aircraft, as well as helicopters for eight years in the Army.

Have cell phones interfered with my flights? Yes. The most noticeable problem is a rhythmic buzzing that you can hear on the voice radios when someone is making a call. Does it happen every time? No. I couldn't say why sometimes it happens, and sometimes why not - but it does occur.

I've had instruments malfunction mysteriously on me before, but I can't say definitely that it was or wasn't caused by cell interference.

So, is the plane going to fall out of the sky if you leave you cell phone on? Probably not. I admit that I myself have accidentally left mine on (by the way, it drains the heck out of your battery, because your cell phone spends a great deal of energy looking for service from towers it can't find). However I certainly wouldn't dare make an in-flight call.

What you have to remember is that airline flying isn't as safe as it is by blind chance. Flying is inherently a risky endeavor, and can only be made safe by not taking chances, and not settling for an answer like "probably not". The basic premise is that if it can't be proven that it is safe, then it doesn't have a place on my aircraft.

For those of you who are foolishly thinking "well, that's a chance I'm willing to take", just remember that there are other people: children, mothers, fathers, grandparents, etc. that are also on board who are not willing to take that chance, and would rather you not gamble with their lives.

As to the motive behind the ban: Neither the FAA nor the FCC own those seat back cell phones. There is absolutely no profit motive for them to ban cell phones in flight. In fact, none of the planes I have flown even have the seatback phones.

I know that the cynics would have you believe that there is a profit motive behind every decision that they don't like. But the cynical reality is that people voice conspiracy theories like this so they can rationalize a selfish decision to put other people in danger so they can ignore a common-sense regulation that inconveniences their petty concerns.

So do us all a favor - please turn your phones off, or put them to airplane mode, just in case. This isn't erring on the side of caution - it is being correct on the side of caution.

And if you simply must use that phone, please fly a non-US carrier - my son is too young to lose his daddy. Thanks.

And for what it's worth - yes, it frustrates the heck out of me the way the industry treats passengers like cattle nowadays, and all my fellow pilots feel the same way.

By anon59691 — On Jan 09, 2010

I fly an aircraft for fedex. The only problem i have seen when i leave my cell phone on can be interference in my headset, the same as what you hear if your cell phone is near an AM radio when you get a call, you hear a series of tones that can be annoying.

And i have been able to receive cellular signals on my cell phone at about 6000 feet and below. If there was a plane load of people on the aircraft all using their cell phones, that series of tones would be non stop and interfere with our Communication to ATC.

There is no issue as far as navigation systems are concerned, just annoying sounds in the headsets.

By anon59690 — On Jan 09, 2010

I'm a commercial pilot, and I have observed, on multiple occasions, cell phone interference with aircraft electronics. Both navigation and communication equipment has been affected.

In one case, while I was flying an approach in low IFR conditions in a King Air 90, the glideslope was disrupted causing me to abandon the approach.

After determining that the cause of the disruption wasn't ground-based, I turned and questioned the passengers, and sure enough, one guy was using his Blackberry. The subsequent approach, cellphone-free, was normal.

For the record, iPhones and Blackberries seem to be the worst for interfering with the airplane's electronics.

By anon59687 — On Jan 09, 2010

As a pilot, I can say that cell phones do cause interference on radios. If you've ever heard static on a TV or radio when a nearby cell phone receives a call or text, or periodically checks for messages, that is what occurs on the aircraft radios. It may not cause an aircraft to fall from the sky, but it is annoying and can cause interference with communications.

By anon59686 — On Jan 09, 2010

its' not only airplanes, but in hospitals too. i believe they don't want to take any chance with fine tuned instruments.

By anon59685 — On Jan 09, 2010

Apparently anon19154 feels that he has the right to decide that he can leave all his electronic equipment on regardless of whether it poses a threat to safety or disrupts cellphone service. I'm tired of dropped calls because cell towers are overloaded.

A plane landing flying over Los Angeles and landing at LAX with 300 active cell phones places a huge load on all the cellphone towers in the Los Angeles basin while on final approach.

By anon59684 — On Jan 09, 2010

I fly emergency medical flights and use cell phones in flight all the time. During my training the subject of cell phones came up. The medical flight company had this explanation, which, knowing our "profit at any cost driven american companies" makes sense.

The medflight company said the when a cell phone is used over a large metropolitan area the signal will generally bounce or run through three or more cell towers. The computers used by cell phone companies are programmed to see a signal "bounced" off of three or more cell towers as an error and the the charge for the call is dumped and not charged to the phone.

A person could call Europe, talk for three hours and never use any minutes! With that flaw in the system, the cell phone companies lobbied capital hill for the law banning cell phone use in the air so as not to lose profits.

If an airline knowingly allows cell phone use in flight it is subject to large financial penalties. Made sense to me. I have never brought down a plane that I was in when I call an ambulance company inflight to coordinate the pickup of a patient on my plane.

The medflight company said that the FAA fine does not pertain to medical emergencies.

By anon59682 — On Jan 09, 2010

I'm a corporate pilot. Have any of you tried to make a call from 30,000 feet? I promise you, it won't work anyway. Go ahead and lift the ban because your phone won't work at that altitude anyway. I don't know if the phone is confused by so many towers or if it's just too high, but it won't work.

By anon59680 — On Jan 09, 2010

I don't feel as though there should be cellphone use on any aircraft. It is a part of technology and somehow as much as technology is updated, it would interfere with air traffic control or what ever devices or frequencies are used by our pilot.

There should be no technology devices used on board of an aircraft, after take off and when preparing to land. Also, with the high amount of terror threats, there should definitely not be any technology used, unless there is a safety issue or alert.

By anon59678 — On Jan 09, 2010

The problem of hitting multiple towers is no longer a factor with current technology and several years ago the FAA was given the go-ahead by the FCC to consider allowing their use in flight. However, during the public comment phase, the FAA received over 2000 responses for maintaining the ban.

Most frequent fliers don't want to listen to their neighbor chatting on the phone all through the flight. The FAA quickly scuttled the idea!

By anon59677 — On Jan 09, 2010

I turn off my cell phone when I fly an airplane because I don't like the clicking heard over my headsets when the phone searches for service, neither does my co-pilot.

By anon59673 — On Jan 09, 2010

I have had my phone on within 100 of landing so to video the ground and the landing (esp sitting just behind the wing) and the text messages were coming through and replies with no problem, as I understand the plane controls to the towers are on different communication frequencies than cell phones.

The biggest problem would be if an emergency was to take place, people would be so busy chatting away and every second counts. Now that said, if I was videoing I wouldn't care about the video and be ready to jump into action. Plus, I don't want to hear everyone onboard talking on the phone, we see what that is like on the ground in public or in their vehicles. What a mess it would be.

Has anyone ever wondered what women in high heels are going to do when needing to escape from a plane? I see so many vain women (and men!) wearing outragous shoes and clothing (sagging pants, loose laced shoes included) that would hinder them from helping themselves and delaying others from a safe exit. Do they really need the cell phone on too?

By anon59671 — On Jan 09, 2010

As to the interference issue, even if a cellphone was completely "clean" of all unintended radiated (interfering) signals, interference can be generated within the aircraft by the cellphone's transmitted signal in the presence of another strong signal from the aircraft's radar, DME, transponder, telemetry, and any number of radio signal producing systems found on board.

It is possible that the two signals can "mix" and produce other unanticipated signals which can interfere with the aircraft's communications and navigation systems. Now, the presence of an unanticipated signal is highly unlikely to cause an airplane to crash, but it can make navigation and communications more difficult for the crew. It could conceivably introduce errors in navigation introduce errors.

The crew could miss an important word or sentence form a controller. Who among you would not mind decreasing your margin of safety on an airplane for the sake of using your cellphone?

By anon59666 — On Jan 09, 2010

Who in God's name wants to spend four, 11, or 15 hours cooped up in an airplane listening to multiple cellphone rings and inane personal conversations? Also a cellphone can be used to set off any explosive device that may be on a person or plane.

Even the use of full body scans will not reveal explosives secreted in a passanger's rectum or vagina. People and cellphone use are outright crazy when it comes to their usage on commercial airplanes.

By anon59664 — On Jan 09, 2010

Interesting. I guess the physics of RF energy is different in Europe where some use of cell phones in flight is allowed. In various meetings I have been in Boeing and others have said the use of cellphones (and WiFi) on board aircraft is not a safety issue. It is more likley linked to who gets the revenues from the calls.

By anon59663 — On Jan 09, 2010

The issue that I have with people using cells phones on the airplane is--I don't want to have to listen to their business deals or personal or family problems. I feel that if I want to read my book, be on my computer or sleep than I should be able to do this without having someone talking on their cell phone sitting next to me or in behind me.

I think that there will be numerous compliants to the flight attendants with this problem if cell phone use is allowed on the flights.

By anon59659 — On Jan 09, 2010

I like the ban on cell phones. The last flight I was on, some couple complained about not being able to use theirs. The minute we landed and the restriction ceased, the man got on the phone talking loudly and profanely. If cell phone use on planes becomes commonplace, then I want to be allowed my iPod to drown out loud and unnecessary chatter.

By anon59658 — On Jan 09, 2010

I too am US certified pilot, a commercial pilot in fact. I am also an RF Systems engineer.

Cell phones actually do interfere with the the both the communications radios and the navigation radios. This is much more pronounced in the cockpit and diminishes the further back the cell phone is from the radio stack.

Not to bore anyone with the reason why, I will state an example that is easily apparent in your home:

When you place your cell phone on your night stand close to a clock radio, you notice that interference that causes the radio to "hum" occasionally, when the phone is "searching" or receiving data. It is more apparent the closer it is to the clock radio. Not all clocks do this, in fact fewer of the newer models do not "hum" at all.

New radio technology to replace the older technology in aircraft would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars per airplane. To replace your clock radio at home -- about 30.00.

This is a fact and it is undisputed. I see it several times a month when I forget to turn mine off on the flight deck. The "hum" is my reminder to turn it off and remind those of you in the back to do so as well. :)

By anon59657 — On Jan 09, 2010

I agree that the safety issue is bogus. I routinely leave my cell phone on and have never had a flight attendant or pilot make an announcement about a problem.

Additionally, I've watched my cell phone at 35,000 ft and it doesn't get any signal from anywhere. I've also watched it from takeoff to landing. The signal disappears after gear and flaps are retracted, and doesn't reappear until we're on final approach between 2,000 and 3,000 ft.

This policy started as a remotely possible problem and has never been rescinded after evidence ruled out the risk.

By anon59655 — On Jan 09, 2010

Let's all remember 911, and some of those families, "on the ground", last chance to hear their loved one's voice was on these so called damaging cell phones, .not to mention that some authorities didn't know jack until these "illegal" cell phones made them aware! I think we ought to be able to make calls with respect to those around us!

By anon59654 — On Jan 09, 2010

do cell phones work while up in the air?

By anon59652 — On Jan 09, 2010

Everybody has an opinion, however I was the guy who helped produce the videos you would watch before departure for many air carriers. The only reason I was was given was focus of attention. The worst times for an accident are take off and landing.

If you are playing with a device while the plane is about to incur an incident you are less likely to focus on what you need to do with instruction from staff.

Also the reason that the lights are dimmed as you land at night is so your eyes can get used to the darkness in case of an incident while landing. It's like a car aiming its lights at you -- it takes a couple seconds before you can see where the road is. So as they approach the landing it is dark inside to allow your eyes to adjust to the outside in case of a crash.

Cell technology didn't do anything to flight 93 but the people onboard where able to say a last goodbye to loved ones. If everybody on flight 93 turned the cell on it should have create enough havoc that the pilots wouldn't have known what was going on. But of course that didn't happen.

By anon59651 — On Jan 09, 2010

God forbid that we hear all of the conversations on cell phones. Keep them off!

By anon59649 — On Jan 09, 2010

Keep the ban in place. It's the only way of shutting up all those obnoxious, self-centered jerks who think we're impressed by their conversations.

By anon59647 — On Jan 09, 2010

That whole thing about phones missing with the equpment is bs. I have used my phone every time i'm on a plane with no problem. The reason why is everyone would be talking over the person next to them an it would get really loud on the plane.

By anon59644 — On Jan 09, 2010

There are so many technical reasons given for banning cellphone use in the plane, but I believe the best reason is for other passengers to travel in peace without being disturbed by the passenger beside him/her who is shouting at his cellphone.- Tacor RP

By anon59643 — On Jan 09, 2010

Put safety aside, I would rather no one use the phone in the plane. Imagine 150 passengers and some of the phones ringing and inconsiderate people talking or shouting into it.

By anon59642 — On Jan 09, 2010

I saw this once on mythbusters. They tried every way they could think of to cause interference to no avail. I have forgotten to turn off my cell phone and had a bunch of missed calls -- and guess what? We do not crash. Airlines just want you to pay big bucks on their on board phones. Just another way for airlines to rip us off.

By anon59640 — On Jan 09, 2010

cell tower antennas are less than 200ft ground and you would not be able to get a signal once you are above them.

By anon59639 — On Jan 09, 2010

Besides the safety issue; do we really need to listen to more loud and disruptive cellphone conversations while we fly? Does anyone ever consider just how rude it is to subject everyone around them to their business and personal calls?

By anon59638 — On Jan 09, 2010

Still pretty bogus. Being able to reach multiple towers would just increase the bandwidth of the phone, it's digital and software would fix any roaming problems.

Umm on second thought, maybe that's why flight 93 crashed in a field, everyone was on their cells yapping about the terrorists taking control.

By anon59637 — On Jan 09, 2010

I disagree with the premise that a cellphone up high is visible to a number of cells. As a matter of fact it is just the opposite. I believe cell phones cannot reach any tower at all at 30,000 feet - that is why a cell phone that is turned on in flight is always "searching for network". So a cell phone turned on or off in flight is basically rendered useless - at least when it comes to making any calls.

By anon59636 — On Jan 09, 2010

Actually, a number of non-us airlines have been permitting cell phone use during flight for several years. Some permit just texting (Virgin Australia is one I think), some permit voice calls too (Emerates).

They install a cell base station onboard the aircraft, and link to terrestrial cell systems over satellite link, so it works over the oceans. It's expensive (dollars per minute), but not much more than the old seatback phones used to cost. Contrary to popular belief, the airlines who are operating this have had very, very few complaints about people yakking.

Test data shows that on any given flight, usually several cell phones are left on, by people intentionally ignoring the rules, people forgetting to turn them off, phones accidentally getting turned on in a bag, etc.

One of the complicating factors in all of this is revenue sharing, as the airlines have to work financial deals with each cell phone provider (Verizon, Sprint, T-mobile, etc). When you make your 10 minute call at 5 bucks a minute, how does United get reimbursed for the call by your cell phone provider.

The original article is incorrect in that the seatback phones on commercial airplanes are no longer in operation, and it never was profitable. Several years ago, the FCC decided to re-auction that frequency band off, and the primary seatback phone service provider decided not to try to repurchase the frequency spectrum. Had it been highly profitable, as the article claims, they would have bid on the frequencies.

Another provider purchased a fraction of the spectrum, and they operate it for a select group of non-commercial aircraft fleets. The remainder of the frequency was purchased by companies who are trying to provide internet service to the airplane seat.

By anon59635 — On Jan 09, 2010

Here's the scoop folks: they don't want you to use them because they want your uninterrupted attention during take off and landings. It has nothing to do with the electronics of the vehicle -- that has been proven -- it is so that you will not be side lined in a conversation about absolutely nothing with someone on the ground so, if there were a problem, you would not be ignoring the airline crew that are giving out life saving instructions! Too simple huh?

That's why they always told you it would make the plane crash if you had your iPod, radio, etc. to make sure you stayed off of it!

By anon59633 — On Jan 09, 2010

Really? How 'important' are most people that they need to use the cell phone all the time? That's six hours less that cancer is being pumped into your face.

By anon57988 — On Dec 29, 2009

I happen to be a US certificated pilot and I'm no stranger to electronics and RF propagation theory.

Having said that, I'm convinced the in-flight cellphone use rules are totally without merit. Despite decades of study and research conducted by all the major airlines, the FAA, the Boeing Corp., and some major US government agencies, there is no hard, scientific evidence that cellphones emit any RF interference to aircraft systems, avionics or otherwise.

I believe the restriction is based on three factors:

1) the airlines get a cut of revenues produced from onboard cellphones.

2) all parties involved have chosen to err on the side of conservatism due to anecdotal evidence and the prevailing mentality in the aviation industry.

3) It is well-known and understood that use of airborne cellphones cause service disruptions to the ground-based cellular system, because a cell phone transmission from aloft will reach multiple towers as opposed to one from the ground.

We live in a society of rules. If we decide to selectively comply with only those rules we agree with, a chaotic and unpredictable society is the result.

Such behavior is disruptive, arrogant, and shows disrespect to the rest of society. Until the rules change, turn off your phone when you fly.

By anon57943 — On Dec 28, 2009

If a simple cell phone had the ability to bring down a commercial jetliner by merely turning it on during flight, you'd as likely to bring that device on-board as you would a box of dynamite. This is an FCC Regulation, not an FAA Regulation. Boeing, Airbus, Embraer etc. spend millions of dollars each year to "harden" their aircraft against just such an attack.

Some sources state the FCC created these restrictions due to the large amounts of cell towers that can be "selected" by your single little phone at 30,000 ft and the rate at which the your phone would select a newly acquired "cell" traveling at 500 mph.

Anon8299 is completely correct and well informed. I also agree with Anon about not wanting to hear another persons banter on a four-hour flight. It's one of the few places you can still enjoy governmental cellular banned peace.

By anon38488 — On Jul 26, 2009

The airplane mode cuts out all service to your phone, which pretty much turns it into a fancy calculator. it does not change the way your phone works so you can make a call on an airplane.

By anon34646 — On Jun 25, 2009

Sure, modern planes and cell phones pose no threat to each other, but do you really want to hear hundreds of phone conversations during a four hour flight? I don't.

By anon29616 — On Apr 05, 2009

Then why do I have in my phone menu a directory called Flight Mode?

By anon19154 — On Oct 06, 2008

This "safety issue" is completely bogus. In the post-09/11 world, are we to believe it wouldn't occur to terrorists to bring cell phones on board to down planes? There is zero chance they would get caught at security and those pay-per-use phones can be purchased without contract for as little as $10 each. Anyone who thinks personal electronic devices are going to cause a plane crash is seriously misled. In fact, I stopped turning off my iPod, noise-canceling headphones, pager, cellphone, etc. I've never been in a plane crash and the pilots never had trouble figuring out where the airport was.

By anon13678 — On Jun 02, 2008

So it is not a safety issue? They put billions into fighting terrorism but can't stop a child with a cellphone from killing us all?

By anon8299 — On Feb 11, 2008

Actually, the effect on the aircraft is an FAA matter. The effect on the cellular phone systems is a FCC matter. That is why they also ban their use in hot air balloons.. .

You see, the cellphone up high is visible to a large number of cells, and without it being on the ground, its transmitter covers a large area, preventing the cellular system effective re-use of the frequencies. The cellular system depends on the signal rapidly being weakened by blockage and limited surface range. From flight, this is not the case.

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