SOMEBODY needs to come over and explain to all of us what the flight mode settings on the phone are really for. I am typing this on a flight back home and in a major huff because of the delays suffered, the homesickness, and the prospect of bad airplane food followed by ugly traffic on Entebbe road, so don’t expect fun and games from here on.
When he felt it necessary to act upon the urge to walk over to me and ask me to switch off my phone just before take-off, the air steward attracted more of my wrath than initially allocated to him for having bumped into my elbow twice on his way down the aisle.
No, he was probably not gay and making a move.
The heat in the departure lounge had brought my temper to a nice simmer and so this red-jacketed chap’s polite but extremely useless, in my view, request was simply mis-timed.
“I have put it in flight mode,” I said, in a calm and collected tone of voice.
“Sorry, we request that all electronic devices such as mobile phones…be switched off,” he insisted, clearly repeating from the training and orientation manual or video.
“Why? My phones have this feature called ‘Flight Mode’ or ‘Airplane Mode’, which solves your problem. See?” I replied, while flicking buttons on two phones to get to the setting that up to this point I had believed was included on the phone just for this very purpose.
For years I have used this Flight Mode setting on aeroplanes with a little bit of wonder as to whether it really worked. I know that once I activate Flight Mode all cellular services are terminated, but what about all those rumours about the CIA and other such mighty organisations?
I have heard it said that provided your battery continues to make contact with the metallic bits on the back of the phone, signals are transmitted somewhere.
Suppose even when you do put it in ‘Flight Mode’, signals still get sent out, and somebody al-Qaeda-ish or al-Shababic directs a missile to the place using that signal as trace? Or, suppose by some spark of bad luck on the part of developers in the airline and mobile phone industries, the signal varieties that direct planes to where they go are the same type that run through a mobile phone that is in inactive mode?
And that, if the latter, that co-incidence was discovered too late into the development of ‘Flight Mode’ for any reversal to the product to be made. This would not be surprising because, whereas I am not a software or hardware developer I do not see the young people at Nokia making calls to Boeing or Lockheed Martin to compare and consult on products. Even though the Apple chaps might be arrogant enough.
“Hi, is this NASA? Great, this is Chad, calling from Apple in Cupertino. We’ve just started work on a revolutionary new addition to the iPhone and needed to check whether you guys have anything close to it just so we don’t have anyone downloading an app that can re-direct a plane and crash it into a mountain or something…”
The fact that we are still being asked to switch off our phones points to the above phonecall never having taken place… or having gotten a response such as:
“Yeah, this is NASA, Chad. We are grateful for your call but cannot at this point provide you with any information regarding the developments made to our rockets and rocket launchers as this is a matter of national security. So why don’t you just be a good boy and trundle along and make another iPhone with a camera lens down the side for us?”
The airlines themselves have given us further evidence that there is no need for us to switch off our phones, because they have installed their own phone systems and, on some airlines, wireless internet as well!
So what actually gives? Why would an entire profession continuously and willingly place themselves in the face of danger such as from an irritable traveller such as myself, knowing full well there is no benefit to be gained? Why would an entire service industry stick to a practice that they know is neither believed, plausible nor respected, yet it wastes a considerable fifteen seconds every flight?
Perhaps, suggests http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/opinion/1938305/mobile-device-scapegoat-air-travel-scares it’s just because in the event that they need to urgently evacuate people, they don’t want us delaying events by first texting and calling relatives and friends to get a last word in. A ridiculous suggestion, considering that if one’s phone is off and there is an evacuation situation, one will now spend an extra two minutes switching on the phone and waiting for the signal to kick in …
No, my suspicion is different: I think the pilot just doesn’t want to be distracted by the sounds of ringtones going off especially during take-off and landing.
To be honest, neither do I.
This blog is going into Flight Mode now.Hits:849