May 12, 2010

Electronic Devices- off means off!

Trust me, I understand! You buy all these fancy and exciting electronic devices to get you through long car rides, subways, standing in line at the grocery store and ESPECIALLY sitting in line to take off on the airplane and then the flight attendants come over the PA and tell everyone to turn them off? WHAT? Surely my iphone or kindle really will not make the plane go down, right?

Trust me, I loooove my electronics! I hate having to turn off my nook and ipod touch too but I do. I listen to the flight attendants and play by the rules because rules are made for a reason. There are a lot of different aircraft that fly each and everyday, I am in no way an expert on each one and could not tell you how electronic devices affect each aircraft. Remember, some of the aircraft you fly on could be 30 years old, these aircraft were made and configured long before ipods and kindles were even around...

Did you know that for my little aircraft, when a passenger texts or emails someone on a blackberry, an error message comes up on the screen in the cockpit. I have had the pilots call me right before and right after takeoff to do a walk through to try and find the blackberry that is still on. They know, call me and then I know and that is Not good. Is it really worth everyones safety to get that last message sent out... And please know that pretending to turn it off, put it in your pocket and pull it out again after I pass by is not complying with the crews instructions. (Which is a Federal Offense if you do not do what you are told to, remember we are there primarily for your safety.)

*** (After so many comments on this post I talked with my pilot roommates on exactly what happens...
On the plane I fly on (CRJ200) they will get message in the cockpit called EFIS COMP MON that comes up on the primary flight display when some information between the captain and first officer do not agree, example heading indicator. A lot of our pilots seem to think this is from cellphones and this is when they call me to do a walkthrough, they have explained it to me as an error message on their screens.) ***

So, how come we can't just figure out which electronics affect which airplane and make everyone turn those specific devices off, how come they all have to be turned off? (I have been asked this so many times)
Well, let's see. We board 20 minutes before our flights depart. 20 minutes to walk to the aircraft, leave bags by the steps, walk on, ask questions, get bags in the overhead bins, switch seats, make PA's, brief the exit row, shove all the bags around to make more room in the bins, get water, throw away trash, close bins, make sure all electronics are off, handout paperwork, close the door. Oh and we aren't being paid yet so unless you want us to board earlier before each flight leaves, making Your ticket price higher all so we can go over the specific electronic devices to be on and off for each plane, they all have to be off.

*** Also, when I ask you to take off your noise canceling headphones for take off and landing, it is so you can hear my commands in case of emergency. I am not just trying to annoy you!!! ***

We really don't have time to even think during boarding so please just help make life a little easier for us all and turn them all off. This means Anything with a battery and on/off switch. Don't make us ask you two, four or eight times, it really doesn't do well for our mood for the flight.

I had a passenger the other week who I had to ask 5 times to turn his cell phone off and then he called someone during taxi. The captain stopped the plane mid taxi and we waited for him to comply. One more time and he would not have flown with us.
Needless to say I was quite annoyed and was very glad to have him exit the aircraft. I love my job as a flight attendant but hate when I feel like I have to school a bunch of 2 year olds.

Anyways, when a Flight Attendant says in the announcement that "electronic equipment can interfere with the aircrafts navigational system", we didn't make this up. So please power down.

(Let me say one more time I am not claiming to be an aircraft expert, these are my opinions based on my experiences on my aircraft. Whether you disagree or agree with me please remember that the FAA has had to review and ok all of our announcements so it's not just my rules that I am asking you to comply with.)


Anonymous said...

I hear ya! I was on a 319 yesterday and we pushed back and were sitting on the ramp, delayed due to ATC. And somebody a couple of rows behind me pulls out their phone and makes a phone call to let their party know they're running late.

And don't even get me started on the people who listen to their mp3 players by using one earbud in the ear farthest away from the aisle....

Anonymous said...

Really? I fly a A319 and I've never hear of a little screen. Nice try though.

Austin said...

Not true. No electronic sensor/device. The reason is that so passengers are not distracted during the period of time in which an emergency is most likely to happen.

The Friendly Skies said...

Hey Anonymous #2, I don't fly on an A319. But if you do, like you claim to, you would know in flight attendants announcements it states that electronic devices can interfere with aircrafts mechanical systems. This is the bigger picture and the purpose of my blog. And yes, in my planes there are screens or displays in the cockpit.

That's right, I also need peoples attention in case of emergency. That is also why we ask passengers to take off the noise canceling headphones. So they can hear me when I yell out evacuation commands.

However, I am telling you my experience with my aircraft. Feel free to take up that discussion with the pilots on my planes next time you fly on one. I didn't say it was a sensor/device, I said they received an error message on the screens/displays they use.

TLR said...

Sorry I have to wave the bullshit flag!

Do you even know the history FAR 91.21?
If not I wrote it out here:

I am sorry to advise you that there have been no accident or incidents involving any piece of Electronics or EMI ever. Boeing has done test after test with no proof. The rule is in effect basically so the pax are prepared for any incident on take off or landing. Which is not wrong but I just can't stand people providing wrong information. Sorry it's a pet peeve. I do have the experience on this. I have over 30 years in aviation as an Avionics Tech, Aircrew, pilot and flight attendant and accident investigator with both military and civilian experience so I have researched and know that there is no proof! Trust me if your A319 had an avionics problem it was likely just broke not due to some cell phone, ipod or EMI related equipment.

The Friendly Skies said...

Hey TLR,

Thanks for the comment. I looked at your comment on the blog post and had a long talk with my pilot roommates. I want you to know that I am not a bullshitter and take what I write very seriously! I am glad mis-information is a pet peeve, it is mine too. Also, please be aware I do not fly on an A319, I fly a CRJ200.

My whole post was meant to be about how I need passengers to comply with turning electronic devices off.

I did state that I am writing from my personal experiences. I have had my pilots call back and tell me they were getting error messages in the cockpit. After all the negative comments I chatted with my pilot roommates.

On the plane I fly on (CRJ200) they will get message in the cockpit called EFIS COMP MON that comes up on the primary flight display when
some information between the captain and first officer do not agree, example heading indicator. A lot of our pilots seem to think this is from cellphones and this is when they call me to do a walkthrough.
They also can hear interference in the background of the headsets. Usually when the pilots turn off their own cellphones it goes away.

Sorry for the inital confusion but I wanted to clear up what I wrote. I am not speaking for all aircraft and I am in no way an expert. All I can state are my experiences and knowledge.

Anyways, my main point was that we are just doing our jobs and need people to comply with what we say. From the likes of the comments, I understand why it is so hard for a lot of people to listen to us. Believe they interfere or not, if we say off, they need to be off- for whatever reason it is.

Anonymous said...

Did the pilots have you test the air quality for them and have you bring them a sick-sack full of cabin air? Perhaps they had you jump up and down mid cabin to help them get the gear down too?

They're playing you dear. We enjoy playing these games sometimes.

My favorite was the compass SLAVE selector...we used to call up the new flight attendants and show them the F/A call button...when you pressed it, a big green SLAVE button popped up and we'd press the cabin chime. Poor things would get so upset.

Go travel, enjoy your job, and stop confusing all your readers who read your webpage.

Blondie said...

When I flew on the CRJ, I had a Captain who would tell me he could hear a buzz in his headset sometimes when electronic devices were on.

Love your blog!

Brian said...

I hear you. You're just doing your job, and you want everyone to do what you say. Roger. But that's a bit naive, isn't it? I'm happy to do whatever is necessary to keep us safe in an emergency, but I'm not at all happy about being told to do things "because I said so" or because of some ridiculous bureaucratic governmental edict.

You're saying that this is about keeping passengers from being distracted during an emergency. I don't see how. People can be just as distracted by their sudoko game (in the in-flight magazine), or their book, or their 3 year-old, or... You also suggest that this is about flight electronics interference. TLR is spot on here; there's not a consumer device known to man that will interfere with an aircraft's operation in any way. I find it particularly amusing that you say the pilots "seem to think this is from cellphones". Seem to think? Any FAA tests to back this up? Manufacturer's warnings? Data of any sort at all? While I have a lot of respect for the pilot's ability to fly the plane, I have very little regard for what they "seem to think" about electromagnetic interference.

I think this is all post-9/11 paranoia. People are afraid that some Islamic radical is going to use his Kindle as a weapon. Rather than put any thought into things, the FAA simply says "turn all that stuff off!" This is just pure garbage. None of the attacks on our airlines have been anywhere near that sophisticated. I'm not trying to minimize the danger that exists from a terrorist, I'm just saying that any time spent worrying about Joe Public reading his Kindle during take-off is time that could be better spent looking for a real problem.

The Friendly Skies said...

Hey Brian,

Thanks for the comment. I know a lot of people have different opinions on the issue of electronic devices.

You are right, passengers can be distracted by other things during take off and landing. A lot of popular electronic devices I always have to ask twice to turn off like ipods and noise canceling headphones can hinder a person from hearing my brace commands in the event of an emergency. From my experience that concerns me more than a crossword puzzle.

I'm glad that you trust the pilots, I do too. I do care what they "seem to think" because they are the professionals flying the aircraft. So if they tell me to do something, I will do it.

And as for the because I said too... if I don't do my job how I am supposed to and have the electronic devices off or the bags not put away properly and an FAA inspector was on board, then I could get fined. I don't make enough money to cover fines for other people not listening to me. So, in my opinion after the safety briefing, because I said to is a valid reason. If someone doesn't like that, they don't have to fly.

Just trying to clear up some thoughts on my end. Thanks for coming over to my blog and giving me your comments...
Hearing from passengers lets me know what you all are thinking and really does help me to do my job better. :)