Southwest Passenger's Cellphone Addiction Got Him Arrested

Southwest airlinesYou know your cellphone addiction has reached an all-time high when you're so connected, you'll get arrested rather than turn the sucker off. And yet there it is. A passenger on a Southwest Airlines flight from Phoenix to El Paso, Texas couldn't wait the 5 minutes or so it takes for a plane to actually land before he had his phone out and turned on. When he refused to turn it off, the airline called the cops. Could this be a rare case of the airline industry being absolutely right?


Unlike the ridiculous instances of passengers kicked off planes for the likes of saggy pants and loud crying, restrictions on cellphones are not only standard across the industry, but well documented. According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has "banned the inflight use of 800 MHz cell phones because of potential interference with ground networks" since 1991. An FAA rule exists on top of that, requiring testing to prove that a particular phone can show "non-interference to the airplane systems" in order for it to be used during a flight. The rules stand until the plane is actually taxiing to the gate -- usually when a pilot flicks on the all-clear lights or a flight attendant announces that phones can be used.

It doesn't really get much clearer, does it? It's the law. So you shouldn't break it. Calling the cops on a lawbreaker -- especially after he was offered a chance to comply and refused -- is just standard procedure. Even if it's for something as seemingly silly as a little old cellphone.

Because before you pull out the "but it's a stupid law" argument -- the kind often put up by the folks who hate all things airlines/TSA/etc. and use their hatred to back their inappropriate behavior in airports -- this is not stupid. A report released earlier this summer by the International Air Transport Association found 75 separate incidents of possible electronic interference that airline crew people believed were linked to electronic devices such as mobile phones. Some even affected the landing gear -- you know, the portion of the plane that would be incredibly important for that plane landing in El Paso?

You know what's really stupid? Thinking that text from your honey matters more than that pilot getting all 100-plus passengers on the ground without anyone getting killed. I love my cellphone as much as any '80s child. I've written odes to my iPhone. I may be addicted too, but it doesn't run my life. 

If it's a matter of my life or my phone, you know which one I'd pick. That text can wait folks!

Do you think the airline overreacted or were they right to call the cops?


Image via Pylon757/Flickr

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