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The secret cell phone enforcer on my flight

The secret cell phone enforcer on my flight

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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:09 am
  #1  
PHL
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The secret cell phone enforcer on my flight

On a Republic flight, was in the middle of finishing a text to someone when the door closed for pushback. Almost immediately, the woman in the window seat next to me said "please put your phone in airplane mode". I was a little taken back and looked at her for a moment and told her I was almost finished. She then said "I'm an FA and this is against FCC and FAA regulations. I'm advising you this for my own safety". She also went into the argument about interference with aircraft systems.

Ok, we were not even yet pushing back. And yes, I know when the door closes the announcement comes on to put mobile devices in airplane mode and put away "large" laptops. I also know that "reasonable" time to comply with those instructions is given. She didn't waste a second to tell me this the moment the door was closed.

Her stickler attitude was what shocked me more than anything. I replied to her that I would have been done already if she hadn't interrupted me, and no - it's not an FCC regulation to not use a phone on the ground. She then looked over to the passenger on the other side of the aisle who was on his phone. She raised her voice to him as well "Airplane mode please. I don't see the airplane icon on your screen". On his screen was his music library and he had headphones on. She was in the "D" window seat of an E175 and saying this to the person in the "B" aisle seat across from me. I don't see how she could make out if he had his phone in airplane mode or not, but whatever.

Rather than engage further with her, I finished my text and put my phone away. We didn't speak the rest of the flight.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:22 am
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Non-rev in Y? Fake story.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:25 am
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Originally Posted by ElCaminoReal View Post
Non-rev in Y? Fake story.
Yeah . That "I'm an FA" was suspect for sure.
Because I'm sure, when they're working, FAs just love it when pax start shouting rules out to other pax.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:29 am
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
On a Republic flight, was in the middle of finishing a text to someone when the door closed for pushback. Almost immediately, the woman in the window seat next to me said "please put your phone in airplane mode". I was a little taken back and looked at her for a moment and told her I was almost finished. She then said "I'm an FA and this is against FCC and FAA regulations. I'm advising you this for my own safety". She also went into the argument about interference with aircraft systems.

Ok, we were not even yet pushing back. And yes, I know when the door closes the announcement comes on to put mobile devices in airplane mode and put away "large" laptops. I also know that "reasonable" time to comply with those instructions is given. She didn't waste a second to tell me this the moment the door was closed.

Her stickler attitude was what shocked me more than anything. I replied to her that I would have been done already if she hadn't interrupted me, and no - it's not an FCC regulation to not use a phone on the ground. She then looked over to the passenger on the other side of the aisle who was on his phone. She raised her voice to him as well "Airplane mode please. I don't see the airplane icon on your screen". On his screen was his music library and he had headphones on. She was in the "D" window seat of an E175 and saying this to the person in the "B" aisle seat across from me. I don't see how she could make out if he had his phone in airplane mode or not, but whatever.

Rather than engage further with her, I finished my text and put my phone away. We didn't speak the rest of the flight.
What a strange experience... it's hard to know how I would have handled that without being there, although I suspect it would have depended on my mood at the time. I agree that the best response here would be simply to ignore her and not engage. Quite frankly, it's actually possible to do virtually anything on your cell phone while it is in airplane mode -- could she really see whether it was out of airplane mode? You could have been writing a future text message that you planned to send the minute you landed or the minute the WifI came on at 10,000 ft. For that reason, if I had been in the right mood (or wrong mood, depending on how you look at it), I may have very well engaged with her with a few choice words. I may have also attempted to ascertain who her employer was and reported her (assuming she was a non-rev) for bothering a revenue passenger.

You do have to be very careful on flights these days, because failure to follow crew instructions can be regarded as a federal crime -- story for another day, but a little over a year ago, when I was traveling in F on a SkyWest E175, an FA had a police officer meet me at the door after arrival when I'd had a very similar airplane mode argument with her. The officer wanted to see my ID, interviewed me, and actually detained me until his colleague interviewed the FA. I made it clear I didn't want to talk to him, and he told me he'd put me in handcuffs if I didn't do everything he asked. There was even a police report filed through the airport police department, and I obtained a copy of it later, which showed there was "no probable cause" any crime had been committed. But I couldn't believe how close I came to being potentially arrested, which could have ruined my professional career. It's unbelievable the power-tripping that happens with FAs sometimes.

However, as this particular FA wasn't actually working your flight (and may not have even worked for the airline you were flying), she really seems more like a simple busybody. Again, when I'm in the right mood, I generally do my best to put those people in their place. Nothing wrong with just ignoring her, though.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:31 am
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I think I'd have made a subtle scratch of my head with my middle finger when she wasn't looking and kept all comments to myself. But that's just me..
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:33 am
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
She then said "I'm an FA ...
Me: Cool. I'll take a gin & tonic when you're done not minding your own business.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:38 am
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I do particularly enjoy this video for moments like that:

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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:48 am
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Whether she was working crew or nobody, she was correct. So, need to be a bit careful how you handle things.

I would not engage. But, I would have ceased the violation.

If she wants to complain to a working crew member and that crew member takes the position that you were violating a lawful crew member instruction, e.g., the announcement, and complain to the Captain and the Captain wants to re-open the aircraft and have you offloaded, I suppose there is that risk. But, seems minimal.

So, shut it off and ignore.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:51 am
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the whole cell phone interfering with electronics is such a load of crap, remember when they used to not allow cell phones in hospitals because they thought it'd interfere with medical equipment, also glad they stopped the previous rules of only using phones at the gate. Don't forget you still can't use your cell phones while pumping gas...also crap and widely debunked.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:53 am
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Originally Posted by Beltway2A View Post
I do particularly enjoy this video for moments like that:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gHwriLZJdB0
I remember this well. First episode first season...........
Interesting reference to buying a phone a Radio Shack.............
Anyway, his point is valid. If phones were really that dangerous they would not be permitted onboard.
If they were really that dangerous, would they risk believing the passengers will turn them off.
That said, there is NO rule saying we have to obey off duty FAs.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:55 am
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Originally Posted by kcmd View Post
the whole cell phone interfering with electronics is such a load of crap, remember when they used to not allow cell phones in hospitals because they thought it'd interfere with medical equipment, also glad they stopped the previous rules of only using phones at the gate. Don't forget you still can't use your cell phones while pumping gas...also crap and widely debunked.
I find it somewhat puzzling that you're meant to switch the phone off as soon as the door closes, but at least on most flights I've taken in the US, as soon as wheels touch down you can use your phone, and the whole plane does so. How does the plane manage to reach the gate with all that interference?
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Old Oct 5, 18, 11:58 am
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Originally Posted by rickg523 View Post
Yeah . That "I'm an FA" was suspect for sure.
Because I'm sure, when they're working, FAs just love it when pax start shouting rules out to other pax.
She was wearing her uniform and had her wings on the left side of her sweater. I just hadn't initially noticed when I sat down. The destination was PHL so she may have been commuting to work. Hard to say.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 12:01 pm
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Originally Posted by kcmd View Post
the whole cell phone interfering with electronics is such a load of crap, remember when they used to not allow cell phones in hospitals because they thought it'd interfere with medical equipment, also glad they stopped the previous rules of only using phones at the gate. Don't forget you still can't use your cell phones while pumping gas...also crap and widely debunked.
Decades ago, it could have been true. Swissair first reported the IF used in CD players, 44 kHz and in those days relatively leaky, interfered with navaids (was it on the CV990?)

The regulatory authorities prefer erring on the side of conservatism and safety, the manufacturers probably prefer not spending money on definitive studies producing data the devices are safe. That produces regulatory stalemate, and here we are.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 12:17 pm
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Originally Posted by PHL View Post
She was wearing her uniform and had her wings on the left side of her sweater. I just hadn't initially noticed when I sat down. The destination was PHL so she may have been commuting to work. Hard to say.
Really. A Republic employee. That's one FA in need of training, badly. Sure it wasn't a Halloween costume?
Under that circumstance, I would have asked her name and told her as soon as we touch down, I'm texting a complaint to mgmnt about non-revs butting into paying passengers' business. Obviously, if she's seeing there's no airplane mode icon on your screen, she's reading your private texts as well. That would be a major part of my complaint.
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Old Oct 5, 18, 12:18 pm
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Back in the day, cell phones put out their maximum power the whole time they were on. There were fewer towers, fewer frequencies, and a phone on a plane could take a frequency on all towers within 200 miles. A whole plane of phones left on could eat up every frequency in a 200 mile radius of the plane as it flies.
Nowadays, it's not an issue. Your phone will automatically turn off its transmitter if it detects too many towers. The regulation requiring phones to be turned off in flight is outdated.
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