Giving voice to the outrage felt by many, my colleague Paul Whitefield blasted the Federal Communications Commission for considering a new rule that would allow airline passengers to use their cellphones in flight.
"Now I may have to hear the Valley girl on my left and the punk rocker on my right describe their BFF who’s so LOL and their bitchin' night in Vegas? I’m gonna have to hear Grandpa Earl regale his kid with stories of his prostate problems?" an exasperated Whitefield (although that may be redundant) asked.
To which I say, at least they wouldn't be spending the flight talking to you, Paul. There's no regulation stopping chatterboxes from sharing such stories directly with the captive audience around them.
There are, however, social graces, which are still in evidence 50-plus years after Emily Post's death. As someone who takes the train daily, I have to say that the vast majority of riders in Los Angeles avoid intruding on the communal hush. Boorish behavior is the exception, not the rule. There's plenty of texting going on, but not much calling.
I don't know that the same would be true on airplanes, which attract an older demographic that's more likely to talk than text -- the opposite of what anyone under the age of 30 does. And I have to concede that planes are much more cramped and claustrophobia-inducing than trains, which magnifies the annoyances already on board (e.g., babies who cry, kids who can't stop playing with the table in the back of your seat, the aforementioned chatty seatmates).
Still, I think people in these situations regulate themselves. And if they don't, the market is likely to respond, with airlines offering phone-free zones or even phone-free planes. I could see Southwest Airlines running ads with a tweaked tagline, "Want to get away ... from that annoying seatmate on a cellphone?"
But what do you think? Should fliers be allowed to use their phones after takeoff? Cast your vote in our shamelessly unscientific poll, leave a comment or do both!