The REAL reason for no cell phones in flight

Recently someone asked me what the real reason was for no cell phones in flight. My reply, “Does it matter? You still have to turn it off and put it away.”

There are three things flight attendants should not discuss with passengers. They are religion, politics, and the reason why cell phone use is not permitted in flight. This is because everyone has their own opinion and people feel strongly about what they believe to be true. It’s not easy for some to agree to disagree and be done with it. The last thing we need in flight is a passenger who wants to argue. Trust me, we get enough of those without engaging in controversial conversations.

When it comes to why cell phones aren’t allowed on airplanes, a lot of passengers have come up with conspiracy theories. These grand theories all revolve around money. Call me crazy, but if the airlines could make a buck off of cell phone use in flight like they do with wi-fi, don’t you think they would have figured out how by now? And regardless of what I say, these same suspicious passengers are still going to do what they want to do – until I ask them to turn it off!

In 2006 Scientific American published a report that stated an average of four calls were made per flight. With so many people unable to “turn it off” literally, can you imagine what that number would be today! On a flight from Dallas to Oklahoma City I had remind sixteen passengers – sixteen! – not once, not twice, but three times to turn off and stow their electronic devices after we had backed away from the gate. And those were only the passengers I had caught red handed. These days passengers are pretty sneaky with their electronic devices. It’s impossible to check under every thigh and inside passengers pockets to make sure passengers are complying with only a few minutes left before take-off.

“When I forget to turn off my phone by accident, I notice the plane still finds the airport,” said one reader.

Thank God for that!




  1. Two months ago the Ministry of Communications and Transportation of Mexico issued a memo to every airline company stating that every PAX would be allowed to use their cell phones during flight, since they had found no reason to consider this dangerous anymore. Even though every airliner received this memo, they still do not allowed the use of cell phones except when the plane´s main door is still open and sometimes immediately after landing.

    • Also keep in mind that the cell phone rule is also a rule by the FCC as well as the FAA. The issue deals with tying up multiple cell towers while in flight. A cell phone on the ground may access a few towers whereas in flight a phone would access a greater number of towers since the radio signal is line of sight. This could potentially tie up towers and switching stations unnecessarily.

      Besides do you want to have somewhat carrying on a phone conversation next to you in a pressurized tin can?

  2. I think passengers should just listen what they are told and not get too analytical. I had the intuition that leaving them on would interfere with the pilots communications to the control tower. I just imagine it is an old tale of feeling self concious. In any event passengers should just listen. If you are looking for a flight shoe that looks classy,sassy, and comfortable check out “My Confidence” at for purchase at $44.99. These run small so the next size up would be better

  3. Not having to deal with loud and obnoxious conversations in flight is a solid argument, as is the potential delays in boarding and deplaning caused by people using their laptops/tablets during take-off and landing. That said someone needs to tell certain unnamed airlines that my book, electronic or otherwise, is in fact not a threat as I can quite easily carry it on my person without causing a delay.

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