Using mobile devices on plane and travel etiquette

Unless you fancy yourself as an old fashioned kinda’ gal or guy, chances are you’ve got a cell phone somewhere on your person. Now depending on how often you fly, you may or may not be aware of how your cell phone use affects other passengers. Frankly, this comes down to personal habits and awareness. If you don’t fly often, you may just not be aware of the new rules of plane travel etiquette in the era of mobile technology.

I travel personally and professionally a lot. Depending on the volume of plane travel that you do, flying can be quite rigorous as you put your body through a demanding obstacle course of Uber to the airport, security lines and TSA agents, gates, flight delays, and the jostling elbows of the boarding. There’s also the constant shuffle of your circadian rhythm through world time zones. So, when I get on a plane and sit down, I’d really like it to be relaxing, like a sanctuary where I can spend some time alone in my head, and away from the rest of the world. I suspect that many of you out there would agree with me on this point.

I was on a flight last month with a 3×3 seat configuration. I had the aisle seat on aircraft left, with a mother in the window seat who put her child between us (I suspect for extra space, because most kids want to be next to the window). Which is all fine and dandy except for what happened next. She put a cell phone in the child’s hands loaded with movies and games. I was at one of the most exhausted points in my life, when much to my dismay, I realized that the child would be playing with this cell phone with no headphones, Bluetooth, wire, or otherwise.

The noise from the games and films was incessant and pretty darn annoying. It lasted for the entire three hours duration of the flight and I was unable to sleep or work. You might tell me to put in earplugs, but I shouldn’t have to – and neither should you – if we’re not the ones with the noisemakers.

I didn’t have the heart however, to ask the little boy to stop playing with the phone, or to ask the mother if she had headphones. In fact, I probably would have given him headphones had they been accessible at the time. But it really made me start to think, that there’s got to be an etiquette that we can all agree on using our devices in this new era of plane travel. Whether it’s an unspoken agreement between all flying passengers out there or something more regulatory and enforced, I really don’t care after that recent experience.

There was a recent Cell phones on planes: mobile devices and travel etiquette that found that 89-percent of passengers would like very much to keep airplanes free from cell phone service. This is specifically referring to cell phones for the use of making calls while inside the aircraft. Truthfully, I’d like to add on an addendum that states that headphones are mandatory while playing games or listening to music. While most passengers abide by such etiquette, every now and then that straggler comes along that just doesn’t get it, for whatever reason that is.

Airplanes are one of the last few bastions of no connectivity … a rare and precious thing these days (although many airlines do offer inflight WiFi, but that’s non-invasive to the person sitting next to you so long as there’s silence, and you cannot make voice calls). But the reality is that other people are not interested to hear a phone conversation. There is rising popularity in the idea to banning cell phone calls in the cabin, at least in the US.