Thursday, November 8, 2007

Clueless flight attendant to passenger: Turn off that iPhone movie NOW!

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My colleague Tom Krazit notes a Consumerist report that an ATA Airlines flight attendant tried to get a passengerto turn off his iPhone because, well, cell phones are not allowed to be used in flight and he was watching a movie on his iPhone.

The passenger, who we know as Casey, tried to explain to the flight attendant that the Phone was in airplane mode, really truly.

If you’ve flown at all, you know that as a general rule, airplane mode use is generally allowed above 10,000 feet. And hey guess what, the plane was above the Pacific Ocean.

The passenger was briefly detained in Hawaii but was allowed to go.

There are two aspects of this story that strike me as at least somewhat relevant.

As Tom writes:

First of all, “airplane mode” doesn’t appear to be a universally defined state of being by the FCC, FAA, the airlines or the mobile phone industry, and perhaps it should. Apple’s Web page on the iPhone’s airplane mode clearly states, “If you turn on airplane mode, the wireless features of iPhone are disabled, and if allowed by the aircraft operator and applicable laws and regulations (emphasis mine), you can continue to use the non-wireless features after takeoff.

Probably this is a good juncture to note how Apple explains iPhone’s airplane mode:

Turn on airplane mode to disable the wireless features of iPhone on a plane.

Tap Settings and turn airplane mode on.
When airplane mode is on, appears in the status bar at the top of the screen, and no cell phone, radio, Wi-Fi, or Bluetooth signals are emitted from iPhone. When airplane mode is on, you can still do things like:

Listen to music
Watch video (bold face is mine)
Check your calendar
Take or view pictures
Hear alarms
Use the stopwatch or timer
Use the calculator
Take notes
Read text messages and email messages stored on iPhone
When airplane mode is on, you can’t make calls, send text messages, surf the web, or check for new email.

OH, yes, my second point.

I’d also say a degree of knowledge about cell phones isn’t a common attribute among flight crews. I mean, on two of the last five flights I have been on, the OK-in-airplane-mode announcement cited “Palm Pilots.”

Palm Pilots haven’t been made in several years and are now rarely used. So would you expect a flight attendant who still refers to some handsets as “Palm Pilots” to know what is, or isn’t airplane mode on an iPhone?

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