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Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

North Shore, MA
Destination Expert
for Salem
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Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

On a flight a few days ago, I had an experience that I suspect will be repeated (unfortunately), so I thought I would seek advice on what to do next time. I apologize if this topic has been discussed recently--I did search before posting, but didn't see anything quite like this. Here's what happened and what I'd like to know:

After the announcement was made to turn off electronic devices in preparation for take-off, a young woman seated by the window across the aisle from me continued to use her phone (using the touch screen, not talking). I don't know if it was in airplane mode or not, but it definitely wasn't off. When the flight attendant came through to check, it looked to me like the woman hid the phone under her coat. Once the FA passed, the passenger pulled the phone out and continued to use it. She kept looking over her shoulder for the FA's return and hid the phone again when the FA was close (with this second instance, I feel comfortable saying that this was a deliberate move to hide the phone). Prior to take-off, she did put the phone away.

Once in the air, before an announcement was made that electronic devices could be used (and I believe before the FAs had gotten up from their seats), the passenger took out an iPad and began using it. Later, as we prepared for landing, I didn't notice what the passenger was doing when the FAs came through to check, but subsequently I observed the passenger using the iPad throughout the descent and landing.

When I was leaving the plane, I stopped to ask a FA what I should have done about this clearly non-compliant passenger and what I should do if I noticed something similar in the future. She gave a rather vague answer about not confronting the passenger and telling a FA (in fairness, she had her eye on a passenger who was awaiting help to get off the plane and I didn't persist in seeking a clearer answer). So, what should one do? I missed my opportunity to tell the FA when she came through the cabin before take-off. I thought about saying something, but was reluctant--and of course, at that point I didn't know the behaviors that would follow. What about during take-off and landing when the FAs are seated?

Let me add that I realize that there's plenty of controversy about whether or not it's necessary to turn-off such devices, but nonetheless there is a rule in effect and this passenger showed total disregard for that rule.

Elk Rapids, Michigan
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for Lanai
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1. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

Yeah tough call once the FA's are seated.

As you pointed out a rule is a rule even if people think it is stupid.

I would do the best I could to let the FA know and I would take their advice if possible and not confront the pax myself.

If I was seated right next to the person and the FA was seated I might say "you are supposed to turn that off".

BTW, from what you said it sounds like she was texting on her phone.

Nothing anyone does on a phone or pad is worth jeopardizing everyone's safety..and it sounds like the woman was a dunce.

Edited: 14 February 2012, 19:35
Barbados
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for Barbados
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2. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

I would discreetly inform the nearest FA of what is going on. This silly behaviour really needs to stop.

Poulton Le Fylde...
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for Khao Lak, Khao Sok National Park
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3. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

There is always someone who does this. I think there should be an automated system that kicks in when the device should be switched off and disables it.

Vancouver, Canada
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for London
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4. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

Last year I saw a chap hide his iPod Touch from cabin crew making their checks just before taxi and takeoff. Once crew were seated he pulled it out, switched it on, put in earphones and got comfortable with it.

The people in the row behind him had hidden their tablet during the crew checks and did the same thing, taking it out during taxi so they could look at photographs on the tablet.

It's exceptionally selfish, rules-apply-to-everyone-but-me behaviour and should be stopped, but I fear it won't.

New York City, New...
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for Air Travel
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5. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

Somtimes people are rather brazen about the whole thing. On a flight last year I was in the first row window seat and the guy next to me in the aisle seat, in clear view of the seated FA in the galley was using his iPhone throughout taxi, takeoff and ascent until finally he gave up on getting a data signal and used the GoGo facility onboard.

I don't think if's really up to passengers to make a "citizen's arrest" in such cases, now if the guy was setting fire to his shoes that's a different story.

uk
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6. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

I personally think this rule will disappear in a few years TBH. If electronics were truly dangerous I think they would be prohibited from the cabin, like so many other things are.

I was told once that the rule is more about securing people's attention if there were an incident. Hence why head phones can't be in ears for take off/landing even if they aren't connected to anything.

Yes, the rules are there to be followed but that's life, not everybody follows the rules.

Personally I think there are bigger things in life to worry about!

I do turn off equipment myself but do find it annoying.

Leeds, United...
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for Leeds, Bradford
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7. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

"I personally think this rule will disappear in a few years TBH. If electronics were truly dangerous I think they would be prohibited from the cabin, like so many other things are"

I think it's not that electronic items are dangerous in operational use, it's more a case they could be deemed as dangerous if an incident happened during take off or landing and any loose items could become potential missiles. Also it would help a passengers escape in an emergency if they had just been paying attention during the safety demonstration.

Also on an earlier point, I'd be interested in hearing how a system would work to disable electronic devices - what about those who have pacemakers fitted?

South Pole
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8. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

it's the job of the FA to ensure all electronic devices are turned off, not pax.

why subject yourself to personal abuse or nastiness over a 14 hours trip for doing someone else's job.

i agree i dont think the devices will bring a plane down (i have inadvertantly left my phone on in my carry on without any disasters) and yes inattention to safety demos may be a problem during evacuation but who is to say that those who paid attention would be any less panicy under those circumstances.

as for 'potential missiles' i would be more worried about the overweight carryon in the bins than a mobile phone.

North Shore, MA
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for Salem
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9. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

Thanks for all the comments and suggestions. I do find it interesting that we've found reasons for turning off electronic devices unrelated to electronic interference--to help ensure attention to the safety demonstration, to avoid loose objects as potential missiles, etc. Yet, as pointed out immediately above, the overweight carry-on falling from the bins should be a bigger worry. Further, there are many other things besides electronic devices that distract passengers from the safety demonstration. The introduction to the safety message simply asks for passengers' attention; it doesn't say "please put down your book, magazine, etc. and please refrain from talking ."

Belfast
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10. Re: Electronic Devices, Non-compliant Passenger

I was wondering about electronic interference myself. I work in a cinema and mobile phones and walkie talkie radios can at times interfere with our projecting equipment. It very rarely happens because the projectionists are careful in that department, but if for example someone is standing on the floor directly below a projector using a radio, it has knocked the projector off before.

That's the connection I always made to air travel and having to turn off electronics, but it was just an assumption.