“We request that all electronic devices be turned off until we fly above 10,000 feet. We will notify you when it is safe to use such devices.”
As somebody who flies almost every week of my life, I hear those announcements all the time. Just like anybody else I wonder is it all silliness or is there a legit reason why you’d have to power your devices down?
This issue recently came up when Arianna Huffington made news for refusing to turn off her Blackberry during a flight.
It is possible for interference from electronic devices to harm onboard navigational equipment. The New York Times cites the case of a flight that crashed in New Zealand in 2003 where it is believed the culprit was the pilot calling to the ground and forgetting to turn off the phone before descent. The plane then attempted to land too early and 8 people died as a result. There are relatively few other direct incidences where electronics are a culprit, but there is a present danger that this could happen. That’s enough for me.
Besides that, we have a responsibility to comply with the instructions of crew members (especially in this age) even if they seem silly. It’s important to be respectful and if you have a problem with what the in-flight crew is requesting of you, complain after you’re on ground, not while you’re in the air.
So the next time you hear those instructions about powering down your electronics, don’t try to be sneaky. Turn that thing off!