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No talking please, we’re on a plane

Who really wants to be able to use mobile phones on planes? It seems not as many of us as the airlines might be hoping, according to a new survey commissioned by Yahoo. The research found that nearly three out of four people questioned wanted in-air mobile phone use restricted to silent features like SMS.

While Yahoo is somewhat optimistically portraying this as a sign that the average Joe can’t be bear to be parted from mobile IM and the mobile web, it actually looks like people are still after using the old favourites: 38 percent of those surveyed want in-flight SMS and 28 percent wouldn’t mind mid-air mobile email.

The survey also says that the ability to play games while in flight would be a hit with 29 percent of consumers, which sort of suggests that consumers may not even want connectivity, just the ability to be able to turn on their phone and use the features, especially after a recent flight where I was told that I couldn’t look at my phone at all, flight mode or no flight mode. If mobile connectivity on planes means I can look at the clock, calendar, calculator, whatever, on my phone whether I use the network or not, I’m all for it.


  1. To be honest, there is nothing I am looking to forward to less than the introduction of mobiles on planes. Only in the 'voice' capacity though. Data/SMS etc is fine, as long as the phone is in silent.

    Just imagine the awfulness of being sat next to a fat salesman, with 'wet-look' spikey hair, in his Tesco

  2. I couldnt agree more. I dont mind being able to pick up SMS or even read up on some notes but I would not want voice calls on a plane. I can just about stomach them on trains and buses as it is.

    Incidently I just found out that my Nokia E61 can go to offline mode when I am in a plane. Duh!

  3. Every plane I go on says you can't use your phone even in offline mode. Very irritating and means I have to take an iPod as well as a phone to entertain me during the flight.

    Planes need internet access but there's no way people should be allowed to make voice calls.

  4. Man, I would HATE to have voice calls on the plane — I hate even sitting next to that random person who somehow wants to tell me their life story over the course of 3 hours.

    However, I'd love to be able to SMS/email/data/etc, so I'm right there with the majority on this one I guess.

    As for the whole use of phones on planes, if you've got an N95 throw it into offline mode and then use it in landscape with the media keys exposed — I've done this many times and don't get hassled for doing so (I think they just assume it's a PMP of some sort).


  5. Why is everyone so against using a mobile on a plane. Anything to relieve the boredom. Night flights excluded, obviously. Also, I am usually slightly amused by other peoples' mobile phone conversations on public transport. It doesn't really bother me that much, it is such a feature of modern life. I think people imagine they get more annoyed about these things than is really the case.

  6. Ha, I don't imagine my hatred of such conversations….. It's lucky airlines use plastic knives and forks, or else I'd have started a stretch in chokey, picking up the soap for big uncle bob, years ago!

  7. AJ, you are the rarest of people, that enjoy listening to some braying yahoo or gangsta or gelled-up salesman when on public transport – especially long-haul like planes or trains, where many people choose to read, sleep or partake of other passtimes requiring concentration.

    Most people see forcing others to listen to your prolonged conversation as the height of inconsideration and arrogance. I don't think many mind a quick 'yes…no…OK, I'll call you later' but when it stretches to many minutes of inane babble, business jargon, street slang or whatever, it just grates.

  8. Ah, come on. I have a theory on this. Everyone hates other people using mobiles on public transport but, from experience, they seem to feel any ban shouldn't apply to themselves.

    Mike42, the gelled up salesman are the best. The comedy value is hard to beat sometimes.

  9. Funnily enough, I'm not after light entertainment when commuting. It is one of the few times on my day when I get uninterrupted time to think, compose documents, emails etc. For many others I know it's the same. The background noise of the train and conversational chatter is something you can filter out, but a one-sided loud mobile conversation is distracting even with headphones on.

    Indeed we all do use our mobiles when on public transport – but personally I only take calls if I know they are urgent, and then I limit it to an 'I'm on the train, I'll call soon' or 'yes honey, be home at 7' sort of thing. No reasonable fellow passenger minds tolerating that – it's a part of our lives now, and we all appreciate a bit of latitude in managing things. But to assume that you can treat an intimate public space (and if I can touch you, I call it intimate) as your own mobile office is absolutely not on.

    We may have to agree to disagree on this one.



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