Yesterday Alec Baldwin was kicked off an American Airlines flight; the speed of Twitter meant that many of us followed the event live, as passengers on the plane tweeted the action. Baldwin's crime? He got into a fight with flight attendants because he wouldn't stop playing Words With Friends as his plane sat at the gate.
I feel Baldwin's pain. Every time I fly I have to enter secret agent mode just to read my Kindle after the doors close; idiotic and baseless regulations prohibit me from reading the device - but allow me to sit in my seat using an electric shaver, if I so chose. It all boils down to fears about what the devices MIGHT do to airline systems, although pilots are allowed to use iPads the entire flight, including take-off and landing. And they're RIGHT NEXT TO THE CONTROLS.
There has never been a study that shows personal electronics disrupt aircraft systems. What's more, I've been on dozens of flights where people didn't turn off their phones or other electronics, and I am sure that this happens hundreds or thousands of times a day. And yet there has never been a crash, anywhere in the world, that has been traced to interference from personal electronics.
There are some who believe the ban on personal electronics is meant to make us pay better attention during takeoff and landing, the most dangerous parts of the flight. But the difference in attention paid to my Kindle and a paper book is nil, and my Kindle gives off about as many electrical signals as that book when the wifi is off. Whatever the reason for the ban, it's stupid, and I commend Alec Baldwin for standing up against it. It isn't even like his plane was taking off - it was stuck at the gate!
Maybe the FAA should spend less time regulating e-books and more time regulating screaming babies on planes...