GPS--Odd Behavior from Passenger

 
Old Jun 5, 05, 11:11 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: VA
Programs: Marriott Silver, Hilton Silver, Hertz #1 Gold, Avis Preferred
Posts: 709
GPS--Odd Behavior from Passenger

My wife and I were on the last Independence flight #1141 out of BOS to IAD on Saturday, sitting in the exit row. There was a man sitting by himself across from us. As we were climbing out from Runway 27, he pulled out what appeared to be a palm pilot and began using it. As we were still under 10k ft I was curious as to what he was doing. I soon realized it was some type of GPS device...he was tracking our aircraft's progress.

What began making me suspicious is that every time during the entire flight that the Flight Attendant was near, he hid the Palm Pilot. He spent a lot of time staring at her to make sure she wasn't noticing him. On one occassion when he didn't see her approaching he quickly used his hands to cover up the screen. He clearly was going out of his way to hide what he was doing.

As we began our descent into Dulles, the FA made the standed 10k annoucement about tray tables and the use of approved electronic devices. The guy across the row preceded to put his Palm Pilot down when she did her safety walk through and stared straight ahead. Quite frankly, she wasn't paying much attention and clearly didn't even notice he still had it out. When she had sat down into her jump seat, he pulled his Palm Pilot back out and continued to use it until we reached the gate.

I was unsure as to what to do. Quite frankly, I was a bit alarmed by his behavior, but after sizing him up for a while figured he was harmless. I was not aware what DH's rules are for GPS use (some airlines allow it, some don't), but I am quite sure he should NOT have been using it under 10k feet. I didn't say anything, but I wonder now if I should have. I wish the FA had been paying more attention because she surely would have noticed it. It isn't the passenger's jobs to police fellow pax, however...though my understanding is that the likelihood of a device such as that one interfering with an aircraft's nav systems is quite low, nonetheless...why risk it?

Any thoughts on this? Should I have alerted the FA or said something to the passenger?
MFLetou is offline  
Old Jun 8, 05, 9:16 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 6
If you felt uncomfortable or thought it to be odd, you should have said something.

At this period in time I feel that it is your responsibilty to bring odd behavior to the attention of the FA.

If it turns out to have been harmless, apologize and move on.
IADMCO is offline  
Old Jun 8, 05, 9:59 am
  #3  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: VA
Programs: Marriott Silver, Hilton Silver, Hertz #1 Gold, Avis Preferred
Posts: 709
Well, I wonder IF it was harmless or not? Any insight as to what the FlyI rules are on GPS?

I didn't know if the pax would put away his palm pilot when we landed. But, by the time it was clear he wasn't, the FA had already sat down and we were on short final, so it was too late.

If I ever see that passenger again, though, I'll know...
MFLetou is offline  
Old Jun 8, 05, 2:53 pm
  #4  
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Spam-a-lot
Programs: Priority Club Rewards, AirTran A+ Rewards, Delta SkyMiles, Marriott Rewards
Posts: 523
I don't know the rules on GPS use either, but just out of curiousity, was he recording data from the GPS (like writing stuff down) or was he just monitoring the flight?
spampurse is offline  
Old Jun 8, 05, 4:08 pm
  #5  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: VA
Programs: Marriott Silver, Hilton Silver, Hertz #1 Gold, Avis Preferred
Posts: 709
Tough to tell. He was using his 'pen' quite a bit, but I think that it was just to 'scroll' through the maps and then make the screen go dark when the FA was coming near.
MFLetou is offline  
Old Jun 8, 05, 8:11 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Location: Washington, DC, USA
Programs: V-Flyer Black
Posts: 329
I too was on this flight and noticed this when I went to the Lav.

People just want to see where they are. It is against FAA rules to use GPS devices in flight. But does that stop people? NO.

A gentle person was using there telephone on this flight too. Two other phones rang during the flight also. The only reason I know this is because I was trying to sleep.

The man put the PDA down because he does not want to turn it off and probably just wants to see his home or the area he lives in from the sky.

Look - Not many people turn there electronic equipment off during short flights.

Not everyone is a terrorist.
PimpNumOne is offline  
Old Jun 9, 05, 1:41 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 1999
Posts: 621
Southwest allows the use of GPS inflight, so I think the policy does vary by airline.

I'll have to say that it is fun to see your altitude, speed, ETA and other little tidbits of information inflight.
a330300 is offline  
Old Jun 9, 05, 9:46 am
  #8  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: May 2004
Location: VA
Programs: Marriott Silver, Hilton Silver, Hertz #1 Gold, Avis Preferred
Posts: 709
Ha...funny pimp you noticed it too.

I know not everyone is a terrorist! I suppose its awful we live in an era when these things are always in the back of your mind when you board a flight, but that's life. I hadn't encountered somebody using GPS before in flight...

I think the real issue is mainly during takeoff and landing with these things.
MFLetou is offline  
Old Jun 10, 05, 12:03 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: RDU
Programs: TSA/INS/FBI Platinum (stopped last 12 of 13 int'l returns - the computer broke once)
Posts: 2,582
GPS in flight is an airline issue, not a FAA isue.

http://gpsinformation.net/airgps/airgps.htm

DH is not listed there, so technically you should ask the captain. We use them on flights and have been asked by cabin crew and other passengers just to see. At cruising altitude it is very easy to pick up GPS satellites from a window seat.

It is still an electronic device, so the 10K take-off and landing rules should still apply, so the user was definately wrong in that case.
StSebastian is offline  
Old Jun 14, 05, 2:02 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Programs: EXP
Posts: 412
Originally Posted by PimpNumOne
Not everyone is a terrorist.
I'd worry more about the terrorism angle if I witnessed this behavior on a fully fueled mid to jumbo size airliner, not an RJ. Although, who knows, maybe the terrorists think it's easier to hijack an RJ because they usually don't have FAMs on board and are more likely to operate out of less secure smaller airports.

What really appears crazy is the prohibition on wireless equipment while taxiing. Will the pilot crash into the terminal building (like in the movie Airplane) if I have my MP3 player on? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
metsfan1962 is offline  
Old Jun 15, 05, 12:03 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: May 2003
Location: RDU
Programs: TSA/INS/FBI Platinum (stopped last 12 of 13 int'l returns - the computer broke once)
Posts: 2,582
Originally Posted by metsfan1962
What really appears crazy is the prohibition on wireless equipment while taxiing. Will the pilot crash into the terminal building (like in the movie Airplane) if I have my MP3 player on? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
I had an f/a mention to me one time that it's about a one in a [insert large number here] chance that something would interfere with the aircraft equipment to cause a problem, but do you really want to be on that one?

I think the rule really stays in place for a different reason. Back in the day I'm sure the electronic equipment gave off a lot more interference, but these days it's to make sure people are paying attention in case of emergency during takeoff. If people are busy listening to their music players, then they're not properly watching if there's irregular operations during the takeoff or landing.
StSebastian is offline  
Old Jun 15, 05, 12:13 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Chicago
Programs: Formerly: UA 1K, SPG Gold, Marriott Silver, FT Addicts Anonymous; Currently: Grounded
Posts: 829
Originally Posted by StSebastian

I think the rule really stays in place for a different reason. Back in the day I'm sure the electronic equipment gave off a lot more interference, but these days it's to make sure people are paying attention in case of emergency during takeoff. If people are busy listening to their music players, then they're not properly watching if there's irregular operations during the takeoff or landing.
This is what I've always thought the reason was also. To make sure all pax are attentive during the vital climb and descent.
zrudeboyz is offline  
Old Jun 15, 05, 6:55 am
  #13  
 
Join Date: May 2005
Programs: EXP
Posts: 412
Originally Posted by zrudeboyz
This is what I've always thought the reason was also. To make sure all pax are attentive during the vital climb and descent.
Nothing wrong with that. I was just trying to say that prohibition on things like CD and MP3 players while taxiing to the gate is crazy, especially since using a cell phone during that time (at least on AA) is somehow okay. Pilots use their eyeballs, not avionics, when they're rolling along at 10mph to the gate. It would take a blindfold, not my MP3 or DVD player, to screw that up.
metsfan1962 is offline  
Old Jun 20, 05, 6:30 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: London, Ontario
Posts: 5,206
I also wonder how something that's receiving a signal, like a GPS or a radio, or something that's not even receiving a signal, like an ipod, is supposed to affect the electronics in an aircraft. A transmitting device, I can understand the caution, but a receiver?
DanJ is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread