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Put Down That Cell Phone

John Deiner

Here's some breaking news from Orbitz: We hate to fly.

Wow, who saw that coming?

That's the less than shocking result of an Orbitz Travel Survey conducted in late March by the Ipsos Public Affairs Project. According to an Associated Press report, "Asked to cite their 'most problematic' trip experiences, 40 percent of those surveyed cited flight delays and 21 percent said airport security. Only 15 percent said hotel amenities and cleanliness, while 9 percent cited rental cars."

Furthermore, "only 21 percent of those who fly said their travel time has not increased as a result of new security measures such as removing shoes and restrictions on liquids and gels." The survey was conducted among 1,006 adults, 738 of whom had traveled in the past year. Other results:

* 59 percent said the most important factor when choosing an online booking site was "lowest prices"

* A third of the respondents aged 18-34 had traveled three or more times in the past year; 35 percent of those 55 or older hadn't traveled at all.

* Asked to choose between free food and more legroom, legroom stomped reheated-chicken-served-in-a-plastic-tray.

* Married folks travel more than singles ( 61 percent vs. 46 percent reported traveling twice or more in the past year).

I'm tall, married and like low prices so I can relate to most of the findings, but here's one I couldn't fathom: 49 percent of travelers don't want to permit the use of cell phones in flight, while "only" 29 percent would favor them. What?!!? Could there be a more nightmarish scenario than a planeload of people yapping away for hours on cellphones? Maybe those 55-and-olders who didn't travel at all in the past year thought cellphones in flight would be a good idea, but I don't get it.

What's your take on cellphones in flight? Bad idea? Or a realllly bad idea?

By John Deiner |  April 17, 2007; 1:31 PM ET  | Category:  John Deiner , The Odd File
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My main concern would be safety -- not that cell phones would interfere with teh radio signals but that people in mid-conversation wouldn't hear the workers telling them to evacuate the plane should something occur.

The annoyance of people chatting on cell phones on a long flight -- if it's that important, then you can take a later/earlier flight -- is a close second as to why I don't think they should be allowed. In a bus or train you usually have somewhere that you could switch seats and get to. In a plane it's very unlikely as they overbook the flights on a regular basis to be sure they're all full.

Posted by: Anonymous | April 17, 2007 1:45 PM

Most problematic travel experience: growing old and gray while waiting for luggage to be unloaded from the plane.

Cellphones on airplanes: This would be like asking the White Star Line to operate an ice-breaker - a painful, tragic, utterly predictable failure.

Posted by: BxNY | April 17, 2007 1:49 PM

You know those seat-back phone paid by credit card that were once ubiquitous? I once sat next to a guy who was trying to close a deal all the way from IAD to LAX. He didn't need a cell phone to annoy me. More recently, going from DCA to DFW, I sat in front of a woman who spent the entire flight loudly espousing her views on a variety of sensitive subjects. She was even more annoying, without a single electtronic device. It's not the cell phones, stupid.

Posted by: Karen | April 17, 2007 2:47 PM

No cell phones! Why do people always think that they have to be constantly available to people? And yes, these are the same people who glare at you if they think you are eavesdropping!

Posted by: Laura | April 17, 2007 3:01 PM

Good heavens no! Most people talk way too loud on their phones, as if the whole world needs to hear their conversation. So annoying. We have all heard them before and after the flight. No, please, no!

Posted by: Linda Creason | April 17, 2007 7:36 PM

Taking the long view, airplane travel is such a great time-saver that most of us don't mind waiting in lines, taking our shoes off, and waiting in yet more lines. If we get there safely and on time, we're happy. That said, however, please please PLEASE don't make us spend the interval between the lines and the arrival as a squished and captive audience to the boorish, loud and rude personality-types who are firmly convinced that they are superior to everyone else's needs or comfort.

Posted by: Cynthia Johnston | April 18, 2007 12:19 PM

Please,NO!
Flying has gotten bad enough as it is why make it worse?
Also,it's not only about safety,but,honestly,who wants to be forced to hear some moron yap (probably inanities)down a cell in an enclosed environment?Brace up for air rage.
Help...

Posted by: R Duarte | April 18, 2007 12:53 PM

"Maybe those 55-and-olders who didn't travel at all in the past year thought cellphones in flight would be a good idea, but I don't get it."

Bite me! I'm 61 and don't have a cell phone. I don't feel that I need to use one as a social crutch to tell every friend I have that I'm at a Redskins or Caps game, at a movie (while it's showing) or call from my car to find out what's for supper, when it's not going to change that anyway.

Yesterday, I was on a Metro train which broke down. Of the three people closest to me, all immediately broke out their cell phones. The first took pictures of the compartment above the wheel engine, which is nothing more than a box with a few wires and tool bags; the second was telling somebody what was happening and amazingly miscommunicating even the simplest of things; and the third was telling whomever she was speaking with that there was no way she was getting off the train and walking in the tunnel - that she would refuse if she was directed to (we were about 30 feet from the next station) - although the operator had said nothing about us having to get off the train.

Cells phones in the hands of amateurs are dangerous devices.

Posted by: DC | April 19, 2007 2:10 PM

I agree with all the comments thus far. I always pack a book and a couple of magazines to try to make the best of the flight. However, even though I am a very calm person on 99% of flights I find myself eperiencing extreme stress caused by other passengers: the instant recliner, the inane conversationalist,armrest hog, crying babies, hyperactive whining seat kicking children whose parents do nothing to correct them and rather appear completely passive, helpless, and unconcerned about their child's effect on the nearby passengers, the overhead bin jammers, etc...... As someone else pointed out it is the state of being held hostage to these annoyances that sets airline travel apart from train or boat where one can get up and move around.

Posted by: Laurel | April 19, 2007 11:29 PM

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