The safety pin incident has inspired phone bans or even outright bans by many airlines. It shows that our ubiquitous devices — like laptops and iPads — are not only illegal to use in flight, but can even endanger cabin crew members and passengers.
But while they are still banned, other factors are limiting the number of things we can do and carry on planes.
Cell phone calls on planes
The ban on taking phones and computers into flight is still in place, and the Federal Communications Commission has confirmed that it will be enforced by the FAA. This means that cell phone calls still cannot be made and received via a mobile device, even if you have turned the mute function on in your phone.
We have another problem: The wide proliferation of inflight entertainment systems and headsets. Technology has advanced to the point where we can easily work on our laptops and tablets and headsets and yet still enjoy the whole trip. A lot of these systems also come with a call button to answer calls, if you so choose.
You cannot talk on a phone throughout the entire flight, either. The FCC, which is under Trump, has been trying to lift that ban as well. On its site, the FCC warns that cell phone calls could interfere with the plane’s communications with the FAA.
Phones on aircraft must now be put away during takeoff and landing. Even though it is illegal, these are situations when it might be tempting to grab a phone or tablet and ring them.
You might not have to go far to reach these restrictions.
What’s next on the list?
Although the safety pin episode didn’t necessarily originate with airlines, the technology that we use to communicate and interact with each other has reached critical mass.
Commercial airlines know what they are going to do: The manufacturers and suppliers of gadgets for planes are now working on things like voice assistants and virtual headsets that would allow passengers to call and text people by voice. If one of these devices is in use, then the use of other devices can be restricted, or the use of these headsets can also be restricted. This technology is now available and airlines would be unable to suddenly ban it.
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Even though this innovation could allow passengers to bypass the rules on cell phone use in planes, it is still likely to be controversial. There are plenty of people who are fine with discussing international politics with each other via a device that is controlled by their voice — and a conversation with your phone is the equivalent of a conversation with a loved one.
So it looks like this idea of banning phones and gadgets on planes is here to stay — and this is also one of the reasons we are calling in and doing the dishes.