Despite some doubts about what really happened on September 11, 2001, we all appreciate the heroism that was shown by so many on that day. That attack led to the TSA lines we all now have to stand in line–often in our bare feet–(NOTE: Subscribers can still listen to these shows) before we get on the plane and to other things too–such as the rule saying we can’t use cell phones and electric devices while the plane is talking off or landing. But is this really a problem?
It turns out that this potential danger has never been proven! Boeing has never been able to duplicate these problems, and the FAA only says that the devices’ radio signals "may" interfere with flight operations.
A recent Wall Street Journal online survey of almost 500 adults who have flown in the past year revealed that, 40% said they did NOT turn their phones off completely during takeoff and landing on their most recent flight. And 2% actively using their phones when they weren’t supposed to. The odds are overwhelming that not all 78 of the passengers who travel on an average-sized US domestic flight have properly turned off their phones and e-readers.
In the September 8th edition of the Wall Street Journal, Daniel Simons and Christopher F. Chabris speculate about why this ban is still in place. They write: "When two events occur close in time, and one plausibly might have caused the other, we tend to assume it did. There is no reason to doubt the anecdotes told by airline personnel about glitches that have occurred on flights when they also have discovered someone illicitly using (an electronic) device.
"But when thinking about these anecdotes, we don’t consider that glitches also occur in the ABSENCE of illicit gadget use. More important, we don’t consider how often gadgets have been in use when flights have been completed without a hitch. Our survey strongly suggests that there are multiple gadget violators on almost every flight."
And the authors remind us that "those flights have not been falling out of the sky."