Douwe Osinga's Blog: Airline Security

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Airlines like to start sentences with ‘for your own safety…' even if they don't mean it. It is pretty common knowledge by now I guess that cell phones don't actually interfere with the navigation systems of a plane and that they just want you to turn them off because it might confuse the networks below. I'm sure to tell us about the lifejackets to make us feel safe; if you do crash over the Atlantic, I am not sure how much of a difference a lifejacket will make.


But it seems it is getting sillier. I recently bought one of those iphones and was listening to some music, when a flight attendant asked me to turn the music off. I explained to her that I had turned off the phone function and that everything was fine. I really had. It saves batteries. No, she said, the playing of the music is the problem. It interferes with the computer systems. To be fair, after I looked at her in a stern way and told her that this was stupid, she backed off and moved on to annoy other passengers. In a way this is weird too. If she really believes it might take down the plane, you'd think she'd insist. There is something for her in it too if we don't crash.


On the way back this scenario repeated itself when my wife was looking at the pictures we'd taken on her camera. The flight attendant again asked her not to do that. ‘Oh', said my wife sweetly, ‘is it because it might make the plane crash?' You can imagine the headlines already. ‘CIA foils terrorist attack. Al qaeda operative was going to look at digital pictures in bathroom'


But it does make me wonder why Airbus and Boeing tolerate this kind of misinformation. They go all the way to build planes that are as safe as possible, try to convince the public that really these massive steel boxes actually can fly and here the airlines come along and say, well, yeah, but don't play your iphone or everything might come crashing down.