Mobile impossible

When I first read that the use of mobile phones could be allowed on flights as early as February 2007, I snorted.Great, as if brawling babies and ill-mannered children screaming themselves hoarse are not enough.

When I first read that the use of mobile phones could be allowed on flights as early as February 2007, I snorted.

Great, as if brawling babies and ill-mannered children screaming themselves hoarse are not enough. Now, we'll have to deal with ringing mobiles when we're trying to get some sleep on the plane.

The calls are, for now, limited to the scope of short-haul flights. On Airbus planes. In Europe. But why in the world do we need to make a call during that couple of hours' journey, when we otherwise would have a perfectly legitimate reason not to? Just because we now can?

When it comes to technology, the envelope gets pushed every day. It's great to make progress, but we should never advance blindly without taking into consideration what else is going on in the world.

What do I mean? Recall last week's foiled plot by terrorists to blow up as many as 10 planes leaving the United Kingdom, bound for the United States, and the subsequent ban on mobile phones in carry-on luggage on board flights to and originating from certain destinations. The ban, albeit short-lived, came just days after news about Europe's plans to relax restriction of mobile phone usage on flights broke.

Today, nearly five years after the 9/11 incident, it's hard to imagine that no one would have anticipated a day where all travellers have to check in their mobile devices, much less turn them off, for fear that such gadgets might be used to trigger off bombs. Assuming we can't thwart the terrorists, will it not be a joke if there are 'No Mobiles' signs on the aircraft when no mobile phones can be carried onboard in the first place?

Will mobile phones or other forms of technology, for that matter, be allowed to advance at all cost?

Interestingly, my significant other, being the engineer that he is, commented last month while we were thousands of miles away from home--or land, to be exact--how nice it would be if people could surf the Web site of the airport duty-free shop while on the plane, and buy items before their plane touches down. They then just need to pick up their purchases when they arrive at the airport, eliminating browsing and queuing time at the checkout counter.

When I rolled my eyes, interpreted to mean need-to-seek-gratification-by-trawling-the-mall, he gave this parting shot: "You don't believe me? It'll happen one day."

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