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No single act produces more exasperated, passive aggressive sighs than when flight attendants ask passengers to, “Please turn off all portable electronic devices for takeoff and landing.” And the cabin crew can often take that request very seriously. Shoot, Alec Baldwin was tossed off a plane for foolin' with his phone while on a flight, and that guy is the paradigm of dignity and self-restraint.
So why do you have to turn off your gizmos on a flight? Theoretically, radio waves from a cell phone, tablet, laptop, or other devices could interfere with cockpit instruments, particularly the GPS. Of course, the instances of a plane crashing or having a serious accident due to said interference are exactly zero. And we’ve all narrowed our eyes and silently judged that jerk sitting in 13B that just has to check his email during takeoff because he’s Mr. Big Shot Business Man doing the business things…and noticed that no fire-y explosion erupted from an engine. In fact, pilots use iPads and other tablets in place of charts and manuals in the dang cockpit! But it’s not so much the single devices the FAA worries about – a tablet or two doesn’t do much – it’s every passenger firing up Angry Birds all at once that could really cause an issue.
…Or maybe not, since the FAA is looking to lift the ban on electronics during takeoff and landing in the next few months. While it’s not exactly tossing the TSA in a ditch and leaving it to die in the slowest, most painful way possible, killing this one annoying rule might make plane travel less like an extremely invasive colonoscopy from Captain Hook, and more like a root canal performed by an elliptic suffering methadone withdrawal. Now, how should you celebrate such a momentous change? Here are a few suggestions for your next flight!
1) Bring aboard a Blackberry, an iPhone, an iPad, a portable DVD player, a Sidekick, a Nextel Chirp phone, a Tamagotchi, a Ferbie, a transistor radio, and two cans tied together with a string; laugh maniacally as you attempt to operate every device at once.
2) Bring a friend and two CB radios and talk to each other using only trucker slang:
“Hey there, this is Baby Bear, just checkin’ the disco lights on the Tijuana taxi roger roger.”
“Copy that, Big Bear. This is Princess Unicorn hauling a box of German shower curtains, looking out for the panda pipeline, over.”
3) Flirt with a flight attendant and get his/her phone number. Right before you land, text them a drink order.
4) Download and play a cool game, like GPS Signal Crosser and Altimeter Interference 3: The Reckoning.-
5) Just keep your devices off anyway, because isn’t it actually kind of nice not to be online for a couple of minutes? Whoops, sorry, thought this was Tumblr for second! But seriously, fuck that, you tweet updates about the landing gear all you want!
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