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« Social Media in the Inc. 500: The First Longitudinal Study | Main | Americans and their cellphones, new numbers »

August 28, 2008


Dean Bubley


The big potential problem I see with inflight cellular is not outbound calls/SMS - it's the inbound traffic & associated ringtones.

I'd certainly imagine that few people would initiate noisy conversations during the hours of "darkness" on a longhaul flight. But the issue has to be sleeping in a cabin with 200 other people who could well be *receiving* SMS or calls from people (or computers) in their home timezone, unaware they're midflight.

If you work out the stats it starts to be quite scary - on a full 747 you have about 100 people within 10 rows of you - I'd guess that during a 5-hour "lights off" part of an overnight flight, you could easily get 30+ inbound events with associated ringtones.

One option might be to make the inflight system accept outbound traffic only, during "dark" hours.


Tomi T Ahonen

Hi Dean

Good point. I would assume we're getting also a change to our in-flight safety lecture (why do they still start it off by teaching us to put on a seat belt? Aren't we a couple of decades past the point of that "lesson")

I'd guess they'll alter the safety lecture to include guidelines on how to set the phones and the pilot or head steward to make an announcement about silent mode when the airplane is dimmed for sleep time on long hault, etc..

But yes, there are plenty of annoying ringing tones as it is, and imagine a little telecoms tech glitch on the interconnectivity during an intercontinental flight, that suddenly sends 100 messages every three hours, and a tech unsavvy grandpa with his grandson's phone, who doesn't know how to switch the weird phone's ringing off.. We'll have some horror stories (like we have of airline stories in general, like the one passenger in the USA who was forced to sit in the toilet for the flight ha-ha..)

Thanks for writing Dean

Tomi :-)

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