It's bad enough that I'm not allowed to use my iPad to read instead of a book when the plane is taking off or landing (even though the pilots are now being issued with iPads instead of paper manuals) but the phones thing is getting further out of control.
According to the F.A.A., 712 million passengers flew within the United States in 2010. Let’s assume that just 1 percent of those passengers — about two people per Boeing 737, a conservative number — left a cellphone, e-reader or laptop turned on during takeoff or landing. That would mean seven million people on 11 million flights endangered the lives of their fellow passengers.
Yet, in 2010, no crashes were attributed to people using technology on a plane. None were in 2009. Or 2008, 2007 and so on. You get the point.[From Fliers Still Must Turn Off Devices, but It's Not Clear Why - NYTimes.com]
When I landed at a major US international airport a few days ago, we were informed by an announcement of board the plane, whole taxiing to our arrival stand, that we were required by the airport authorities to keep our phones switched off until we left the terminal building for "security reasons". An awful lot of passengers were pissed off about this, because they wanted to let relatives know that they had landed, check their messages and so on. There was a lot of grumbling as we stood in the 55 minutes line for immigration. Fortunately I had the latest "Economist" with me so I had something read while the people around me, some of them families with small children, had absolutely nothing to do. They weren't even allowed to listen to music or play handheld games.
I began to wonder what "security reasons" there might be for the prohibition. If I were a terrorist dedicated to the overthrow of the United States, then I would simply ignore it. So it can't be aimed at terrorists or criminals or other people who disobey the law. And if the "authorities" really don't want anyone to make phone calls inside their airport, then all they have to do is turn off the cells.