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Phones On Planes? Worst. Decision. Ever.

Original Article: Phones On Planes? Worst. Decision. Ever.

By Paul Hansford From: news.com.au May 24, 2012 12:00AM

SOME of you might have missed it, but the worst decision in the history of travel was made last week.

With what will surely spark the biggest assault on people’s ears since signing Geri Halliwell to his record label, Richard Branson announced Virgin Atlantic would be allowing the use of mobile phones during their flights from London to New York.

That’s right, phone calls on planes. Let that one sink in for a second… Do you know what kind of living hell that will be?

Think about the ten most boring people you’re friends with on Facebook and then imagine having their timelines read out to you for the duration of a transatlantic flight. Loudly.

I, for one, can’t wait for the most intimate – and inane – thoughts of my fellow passengers to be a part of my travel experience.

Being privy to such conversational gems as “I can’t believe I’m talking to you on a plane” or “We just wanted to let you know we made it on the flight OK” is certainly going to enhance my travel experience.

They say you can’t do any damage with the plastic cutlery on planes but it might not stop me trying to self-harm…

The decision to allow phone calls (as well as email and internet access) on flights is an absolutely terrible one on many levels.

Apart from the obvious increase in noise and cost involved with making calls at 40,000 feet, the chances of being punched in the face while flying will also rise.

If passengers are coming to blows over reclining seats and crying kids, how do you think they’re going to react to someone dictating business letters to their secretary on the phone at 2am?

With air rage being all the… erm, rage at the moment, you’d think airlines would be thinking of ways to increase the peace and not encouraging physical confrontations.

There’s also the issue of who the service will made available to. Virgin Atlantic have already stated that due to technological constraints only 10 people will be able to make calls at any one time.

Who decides who gets to make the calls and when? Will first class and business be given first shout? Will work emails be given priority over those playing Draw Something?

And if you thought the wailing of babies was enough to drive you insane on a flight, imagine what it will be like with the adults getting involved too.

With the ability to now call loved ones you’ve just said goodbye to, the blubbering emotional wrecks you usually only see at the departure gate will now be sitting in the seat next to you.

The irony of the situation is that another of Richard Branson’s travel companies already recognises how annoying people talking on their mobiles can be when travelling.

Virgin Trains were one of the first carriers in the UK to offer ‘Quiet Zone’ carriages, where talking on mobiles is prohibited (although it only seems to be enforced by the very British way of complaining: a tut and a shaking of the head in the direction of the offender).

But what upsets me most about the Virgin Atlantic decision – and the inevitable clamour of other airlines to follow suit – is the loss of one of the last sanctuaries of travel.

The plane is a place you can turn off the outside world, a perfect vehicle (no pun intended) in which the transition from day-to-day life to vacation can take place.

It gives you the chance to listen to an album all the way through or read that book you bought six months ago but never found time to start.

With the pinging of email alerts, text messages and ringtones that luxury will be lost forever, and that’s a shame for all travellers.

So, Mr Branson, if you’re listening, please reconsider. If you stop the madness, I’ll even promise to buy a Geri Halliwell album.

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