Plane Thinking

From when you leave the gate to takeoff, your phones (and iPads and Kindles) must be off, but when you land you can use your phone before you get to the gate.

15 thoughts on “Plane Thinking

  1. I used free WiFi on Norwegian Air the other day enroute to WordCamp Edinburgh. Quite awesome really! Unfortunately it went from around 1 Mbps down to struggling to load once everyone else on the plane had finished connecting 🙁

  2. Wrote this post about making a difference and you have the power to do that Matt.

    Richard Branson says that he focuses on it but he’s not like you.

    Your video’s are different

    I have this feeling you like airlines or would like to change them

    Would love to pass the time by working on the net while in flight.

    You could start with one plane couldn’t you?

  3. Makes sense to me. They don’t care if you leave your phone on once landed, but flight attendants can’t walk up and down the aisle immediately after takeoff when the plan is climbing at a steep angle.

    BTW, thanks for WordPress! Our site ( is making the switch soon.

  4. The goal is to avoid radio interference during takeoffs and landings. Once you’ve landed, they don’t care. If the rule was “everything needs to be off right before takeoff”, it wouldn’t be enforceable. What are they going to do… sit there on the runway, holding up other planes, while they do a check? It’s much easier to do that check at the gate, prior to closing the doors.

  5. They (whomever *they* are) want you to pretend to pay attention: to be semi-aware of the mandatory pre-takeoff safety briefing, be slightly more aware of what’s going on around you (what? aborted takeoff? geese in the engines? landing in the hudson?) and the assumption is that if the plane landed at the destination, that between touchdown and gate, not a lot will happen, and people are either still dozing, or if your pilot was ex-navy, still shaken from the hard landing.

    Besides, once the plane is on the ground, they know that you’re already reaching for your phone to call someone or send the usual “hey, landed. alive.” or “you better pick me up” or “will call when (if) my bags emerge” text message. And maybe, just maybe, allowing people to use their devices will keep them from unbuckling the seatbelt until “…the plane has come to a final and complete stop at the gate and the pilot (or his intern in the other seat, more likely) has turned off the fasten-seatbelts sign…”

    tl;dr: by then, they don’t care, the plane has landed and they just want you off it. buh-bye. buh-bye.

  6. I think it’s because between gate departure and take-off the pilot is in constant communication with the tower, so 200 cell phones can interfere with the communication system. After landing he only needs to know where he has to park the plane, plus he’s on the ground already so not much can happen.

  7. Unfortunately too many folks need to be told multiple times to turn their stuff off. So the attendants need extra time taxing to tell them over again. Otherwise many planes would end up holding on the runway waiting for people to power down their gadgets before they took off. 🙁

  8. I, as a frequent flyer, sincerely hope you are not advocating to allow people to use cell phones on planes? Give me a break!

    First off, from a personal perspective, it’s some of the few times I can get uninterrupted hours away from the phone. Second, and most important, I can’t even begin to imagine being stuck for hours on a plane with 100 people yammering away on their phones. Talk about air rage.

  9. Perhaps a device *could* have the potential to interfere with a plane’s instrumentation, but all of that it subjected to such high standards that I personally believe requiring devices to be off prior to takeoff is simply to avoid them flying out of someone’s hand during a turbulent takeoff and to get the undivided attention of the passengers so that they can show you how to properly fasten a seatbelt. Lame.

  10. It’s a hangover from the old days of flight – those dark-ages when RF technology was more vulnerable and there was a real danger of interference. These day’s it’s more a tradition I guess.
    My cell stays OFF – any excuse is a good excuse. My hat off to those airlines offering internet connectivity in flight though…

  11. Pilots are required to ask for electronics to be off prior to takeoff partly because there is sometimes an Instrument Landing System VOR calibration/check procedure that is done before entering the runway. Once a check of the VOR receiver is done, using a test beacon on the ground, it isn’t usually touched while airborn. But, electronic devices can cause minor interference to direction finding equipment in the cockpit at any time.

    Try looking for the signs “ILS Safe Area” or “ILS Critical Area” (no RF interference) or “VOT” next to the taxiways right before you enter the runway, which are primarily meant to keep aircraft transmissions from interfering with landing aircraft, but also are sometimes used for VOR checks.

    While the radio-based VOR an archaic system dating back to pre-WWII, it is still needed in the age of precision GPS approaches, and it is still used by all airlines and private pilots worldwide and needed as a backup where GPS approaches are not published or authorized. Any RF interference can presumably cause errors in the calibrations of the RF-based VOR navigation system, which isn’t much of an issue in flight, but you don’t mind being off the runway by 10 or 20 feet in a foggy landing, now do you?