ATA Tries To Have You Arrested For Using Your iPhone In "Airplane Mode"

The iPhone has a setting that makes it safe to use on an airplane. So-called “airplane mode” disables cell phone, radio, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth signals, thus allowing you to watch movies staring Jennifer Love Hewitt while flying through the air.

And that’s what reader Casey tried to do. Unfortunately, it seems that the flight attendants had never heard of “airplane mode,” and called the police when Casey refused to stop watching I Know What You Did Last Summer.

I am an iPhone owner, and this is my story. I recently was traveling to Hawaii on ATA airlines and took my iPhone along for the trip. During the first 2 hours of my 5 hour flight I was listening to music using the ipod function of my iPhone.

The iPhone was sitting on my tray table in front of my seat, in plain sight. Then I decided to watch a movie. So I fired up the classic “I know what you did last summer”, a movie I had never seen before. About 1 and a half hours into this cinematic masterpiece I had a flight attendant try to get my attention.

I paused the movie just as Jennifer love Hewitt was screaming something about “please stop killing my friends” or “what do you want from me”, honestly I am not sure what she was saying because I paused the movie and looked to see what the flight attendant wanted. He said something to the effect of “you can’t use a cell phone in flight”. OK, that makes sense, so I assured him that I had the phone in airplane mode and that all cell, wifi and bluetooth was off.

He again said “you have to stop using it” and walked on… Now I know something about flying and the rules, and I am pretty sure I can use the MP3 part of a cell phone if it is in airplane mode, above 10,000 feet. So, I continued to watch, needing to find out who the killer with the hook was and why they were messing with J Love.

About 10 minutes later, the same guy comes back and waves his hand in front of my face, I pause the movie again, and look over at him. He says that I am not allowed to use a cell phone in flight and I am breaking FAA rules. Again I tell him I have the phone in airplane mode, and would be more than happy to show that to him. He didn’t want to see it and said I am breaking FAA rules.

“OK, maybe I am wrong ?” I think to myself.

So I ask what rule I am breaking. He tells me I am talking on my cell phone. I again explain I am not using the cell part and it is disabled. I go on to further explain that I have been on other airlines that have specific written rules that say cell phones in airplane mode are OK above 10,00 feet, so how could it be a FAA rule. And if it is, what rule ? He has no answer for that, but to now yells at me “You have to do anything I say, I am going to have you arrested”….

ANYTHING ? Wow…I didn’t know they had that power in the air?

So now the head flight attendant comes over and tell me the same thing about FAA rules, and I explain again to her the same stuff, and asked her again “What rule am I breaking?” She runs off and comes back with a slip of paper that has about 4 or 5 FAA rules that the flight attendant is supposed to check off and sign and give to you as a written warning. She has crossed all of them out and written “Talking on cell phone”…I tell her again “I am not talking on my cell, the cell part is off, and this is a device that has many functions that maybe you are not aware of and the offending functions are disabled.”

She goes on to tell me that I am breaking FAA rules. I say “WHAT RULE ?”

Oh, while this is going on the first flight attendant guy is behind her yelling at me about that he wants me arrested.

Then she runs off and comes back with a HUGE book of FAA rules. Finally, I will get to see the rule about no phones in airplane mode (even though I know it doesn’t exist) She drops it in my lap, open to a page that says “Things not allowed in flight: Talking on cell phones, Playing online cell phone games… Things allowed over 10,00 feet: MP3 Players…etc..”

So I say “what does that show? I am not talking on my phone”

She grabs the book and runs off in a huff. And again the guy yells at me “I have called the police, you are going to jail”…

So we start our decent and I turn my iPhone off, because I follow REAL FAA rules. We land and there are police waiting for me, the flight attendant that started this whole thing makes me walk to the front of the plane while everyone else has to stay in their seats and I stand there for 10 minutes. I kind of feel like I am standing in front of class as punishment because I was disruptive, not that this has ever happened to me in school, ok maybe it has.

Then the police take me off the flight and to a waiting area. I explain everything that happened, they go and talk to the male flight attendant. I see him waving his arms and looking very angry and animated. Why is he so hell bent on getting me in trouble ? So then the police come back over to me and explain that he said this particular plane is not shielded for ANY electronic equipment at all, so even a phone in airplane mode could cause problems.

OK, so why didn’t he tell me that at all in flight, all he said was i was breaking FAA rules, and also why was everyone else allowed to use their laptops, mp3 players, etc ?? The police officer looked confused, and said he would be right back. He talked to the guy again and then came back and said that the airplane is not shielded for ONLY phones in airplane mode.

Come on, really ? he has changed his story 3 times, and all he said in flight was FAA this and FAA that, nothing about this specific plane. The police sorta laughed and said wait one second, they went and talked to him, he got really upset and left. Then they came back to me and said I was free to go.

I have never been harassed by someone so much as that flight attendant. He was very rude to me the whole flight, lied about FAA rules, and changed his story to police 3 times. I took a Southwest flight later in the week, they have it clearly written in the inflight magazine that airplane mode is fine over 10,000 feet.

So, if you have an iPhone, ATA airlines does not want your business. I was harassed, embarrassed, and delayed for no reason, other than I own an iPhone, the ATA flight crew has no idea about what are real FAA rules, and they like to just make up whatever they want to scare you into obeying them, because you “have to do anything” they say…


Casey submitted this complaint to ATA and they’ve not responded. Apple’s website says that the iPhone is safe to use on an airplane while in “airplane mode,” and we see no reason to doubt this.

It seems that ATA owes Casey a big apology.



Edit Your Comment

  1. freshyill says:

    >She grabs the book and runs off in a huff. And again the guy
    >yells at me “I have called the police, you are going to jail”…

    Did they call the police on a cell phone? That would have been deliciously ironic.

  2. btdown says:

    asshole..why cant you just do what you’re told and turn the damn thing off? Would it have killed you to do so? I’ve run into the same problem and even after explaining about airplane mode, they still ask you to turn it off. So i just turn it off..why are you so special that you cant follow instructions?

  3. ChewySquirrel says:

    Geez is it that big of a problem to just turn it off and avoid all the hassle. I mean the plane had to land and they had to talk to police, for what, to watch the last 30 minutes of a movie? Sure Casey was in the right but at some point you have to stop being stubborn and not make a jackass out of yourself.

  4. breny says:

    The FA was an asshole, not the passenger. FAs are not allowed to make up rules on a whim. The “you have to do anything I say” attitude is BS.

  5. GrantGannon says:

    First off…that movie SUCKED.

    Secondly…a five hour flight is a five hour flight and I’d damn sure want to watch my IPhodouch if I were having to sit that long on a plane.

  6. hubris says:

    @btdown: That’s what I thought when I saw the summary on the main page. But after reading the whole thing, I’m on Casey’s side, especially if other people were listening to MP3 players and using laptops.

    Look, I’m all for not causing disruptions and being a dick for no reason, but other people also need to do the same. And a flight attendant on a power trip who resents not being listened to in his little aluminum kingdom does not get to be a tinpot dictator.

  7. stardeo says:

    Why should anyone “in the right” have to bow down before ignorant people with power? It doesn’t matter if it is “needing” to show a receipt, turning off a phone, or not invading a country that doesn’t have WMDs.

    People with power must exercise that power with respect. I don’t care how much of a “hassle” their jobs are. If you take a job that is a hassle, don’t abuse your power because you need to dick wave.

    @btdown: Asshole. Why is the flight attendant so special that everyone has to follow his inane and stupid orders?

  8. aishel says:

    There is absolutely no reason he should have turned it off, and I would have also continued to watch.

  9. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    @ChewySquirrel: So it’s okay for the flight attendant to make a jackass out of himself but not the consumer. Bad consumer!
    And what is this “anything I say” bullshit? I believe I would be transcribing any such conversation I have with a ‘uniformed crew member’ from now on to make sure that as someone with so much control over the plane, I don’t violate any FAA rules and regulations.
    ATA sucks anyway, not like they’ll ever get another dime off of me.

  10. G Voll the Mole says:

    What you should have reason to doubt, however, is the mental capacity of your average in-flight attendant.

  11. Nelsormensch says:

    @btdown: Because the air waiters/waitresses don’t make the rules, the FAA does. Casey was following FAA regulations, and the flight staff was totally in the wrong telling him to turn his video player off (in airplane mode, an iPhone is, for all intents and purposes, just an iPod Touch).

    The staff on this flight knew they were in the wrong, but weren’t mature enough to admit it, so they went to great lengths to bully one of their customers into compliance. I’m glad Casey stood up for his rights and if I were in his situation, I hope I would have done the exact same thing.

  12. DrGirlfriend says:

    I’m sure Casey was a big hit with his fellow passengers. Especially during that part where people had to stay in their seats for 10 minutes after arrival. I imagine a triumphant movie-type scene, where all the passengers applaud and cheer Casey on during this altercation, and then they say, “We don’t need to get off this plane! We will stay here as long as it takes and risk missing our connecting flights because we’re behind you!”

    If he’d at least been watching something good and worth defending…but all this for a JLoHew movie? Wait, don’t tell me – it was the principle of the thing. Shut the thing off, then complain to ATA afterwards. Jebus.

  13. heinzs says:

    He didn’t do anything to disrupt the flight. The attendant did that.

    Besides, if phones could *actually* cause problems for the aircraft, do you think they would even let them on the planes? You can’t even bring your own water these days.

  14. amejr999 says:

    Actually, there is a FAA rule requiring compliance with all instructions from the flight crew. I would have turned it up and perused it with ATA and the FAA afterwards… citing non-existent regulations is a no-no. Glad the police were capable of thinking for themselves.

  15. It’s a think line bewtween being a person making a statement and making a scene. It seems as though in this case the passenger was in the right and these FAs need some updated training for the newest gadgets they will encounter. I remember being treated crappy trying to use an early discman on a flight in 89 or so as a kid simply because they didn’t know HOW to deal with them.

  16. technotica says:

    @omerhi: Hah ‘little aluminum kingdom’ I have to find a way to use that in conversation.

    Flight attendant was an asshole, seems like the passenger (other than terrible taste in movies) was being pleasant and rational throughout the entire ordeal. I would hope that I would have the guts to stick up to them, however chances are that I would just fold to get them to shut up.

    Besides, that’s why I bring multiple electronic devices on flights. Why limit yourself to just an iPhone. I would just shut down the offending device and pull out another electronic goodie.

    PSP, Nintendo DS, phone, MP3 player, laptop….I need them all!!

  17. girly says:

    You trailed off after the ‘no online cell phone games’ rule for cell phones. They could have viewed it as equivalent.

    It seems like the rules are a bit behind the times but I get the feeling the gist is don’t use your cellphone during the flight.

  18. hypnotik_jello says:

    He should have just shown his receipt! Oh wait… err…

  19. GearheadGeek says:

    @btdown: One of you is an asshole… you or the iPhone-carrying original poster, and for once I don’t think it’s the guy with the iPhone. Just because someone is on a power trip and doesn’t bother to know the rules doesn’t mean they can expect unreasonable, unthinking adherence to any command they make. If the flight attendant told you to blow him, would you comply without argument? It would be nice if ATA apologizes, but if I’d been the one w/ the iPhone I think I would’ve been happy enough to see the flight attendant’s snit when the police refused to do my irrational bidding that’s unsupported by the regulations or by reality.

  20. csdiego says:

    Go, Casey! Flying is miserable enough these days without flight attendants acting like junior-high bullies. Somebody needs to take these jerks down a peg or two.

  21. Keter says:

    @BTDOWN – I’m tired of being inconvenienced and hassled by tinpots, and so are a lot of other people. When one is abiding by the rules, one should have a reasonable expectation of being left in peace. That’s not asking for “special” treatment, that is expecting common courtesy and good sense from others.

    A lot of people who used to do whatever was necessary to keep the peace have started noticing that this just makes the tinpots more aggressive and invasive of what should be our business…so we’re standing up to them, as we must to use social correction (embarrassment, primarily) to teach these people to think more clearly (or just to think) before they react.

  22. GearheadGeek says:

    @hypnotik_jello: They are unequivocally NOT equivalent. The key difference being ONLINE games, requiring the phone to be in communication with its network.

  23. Crim Law Geek says:

    Yes, the FA was being a major-league asshole, I probably would have told him to go do anatomically impossible things with his genitals, but as I understand it, the FAA gives flight crews quite a bit of power. As long as they are not violating any constitutional rights, etc, the flight crew (particularly the Captain) can pretty much order you to do anything and it is a Federal Offense to not comply. In fact, interfering with a flight crew (partly defined as “lessens the ability of the member or attendant to perform [their] duties” can send you to Federal PMITA prison for up to life (49 USC 46504).

    They might have a hard time making the case, specially if you are following FAA regulations, and the prosecutor will look like a complete dumbshit saying “the airplane wasn’t shielded for phones in airplane mode” (which is a fantastic bit of bullshit), but you would still be risking prison time.

    In defense of flight crews everywhere, the preponderance of cell phones with extra features probably makes their job harder. For one, how do you tell the phone is actually in airplane mode? Some of them show an antenna icon with an X over it, but that could easily mean “no signal”, other show a picture of an airplane or something. FA’s do not have the time or the training to go look at everybody’s screen and make sure it’s in airplane mode, and assuming their phone has it, many people are too dumb to know how to activate it. That said, odds are at least 2 or 3 people on every flight have left their phone on accidentaly, and planes aren’t crashing left and right.

  24. hypnotik_jello says:

    @GearheadGeek: What the hell are you talking about?

  25. ATA is still in business?

    Last time I flew with them, my seat smelled like urine.

    They can suck it.

  26. Anonymous says:

    i would have just said its not a phone, its the new ipod touch. sounds like he wouldn’t have been smart enought to know the difference anyway.

  27. Consumerist Moderator - ACAMBRAS says:

    To those of you calling the OP a jackass, asshole, etc.: dial it back a notch or go find another post that’s more interesting to you.

  28. MercuryPDX says:

    While there is an FAA rule the OP was shown (aka the “10-minute, 10,000-foot limit”), the use of PEDs (Portable Electronic Devices) is ultimately under the control of the airline and its staff. Not all planes are shielded the same, and what may be OK on one carrier may not be OK on another. It’s the responsibility of the carrier to determine which devices are safe or unsafe for use in flight. Check the inflight magazine or the company’s website… they usually have a list.

    PEDs cause interference that can mess with certain instruments on the plane and create a dangerous situation. So even a phone in “airplane mode” will give off interference that could cause problems if the plane is not shielded for it.

    Personally, I think the OP over reacted and should have just waited to finish his movie later.

  29. Anonymous says:

    and that game rule applies only to online gaming. i would have done the same thing as this guy. i don’t take too lightly to people tramping all over me and my rights.

  30. Crim Law Geek says:

    As for the myth of cell phone interferance, commercial planes are separated by miles, and are flying IFR, so are always being watched by Air Traffic Control, who would tell them if they are off course. The only time I could see a phone causing a problem (assuming they can actually interfere with navigation equipment) is during an ILS landing, and even then, the pilot can take control as soon as he feel something going wrong (i.e. he is off the ILS glideslope).

  31. MercuryPDX says:

    And for those of you bitching aloud, which of the following two scenarios would cause the least amount of panic an anxiety on a flight:

    a) The captain announces over the loudspeaker “The communications and/or nav equipment is being interfered with by something on the plane. Please shut off all electronic devices now.”

    b) The cabin through discretely walks through the plane looking for devices it knows can cause interference (ie. everyone with a laptop) and asks individual passengers to turn those devices off.

  32. MercuryPDX says:

    @MercuryPDX: Grrrr…

    b) The cabin CREW discretely walks through the plane looking for devices it knows can cause interference (ie. everyone with a laptop) and asks individual passengers to turn those devices off.

  33. The Count of Monte Fisto says:

    @INconsumer: Get over yourself. Watching a movie on a plane is not a right.

  34. weave says:

    He should have turned off the device and then filed a complaint with the airlines after the plane landed.

    My phone has a built in GPS and flight mode and I enjoy watching where the plane is. So far no one has said anything to me, but if they did I would first tell them in was in flight mode and if they still wanted it off, I’d comply.

  35. GearheadGeek says:

    @hypnotik_jello: D’oh! I clicked reply on your post below @girly: “…the ‘no online cell phone games’ rule for cell phones. They could have viewed it as equivalent.” My aim apparently sucks today.

  36. Anonymous says:

    i think the flight attendants should at least be educated on the airplane mode for cell phones. i have flown before with my phone on the whole time and didn’t know it. don’t know if i would have had service up there because it didn’t realize i forgot to turn it off the whole time. noone but me knew,(no annoucements or anything of the sort.

  37. JRuiz47 says:


    Yet nobody else using MP3 players and laptops got the treatment this customer did? What happens when I use my Treo as a MP3 player? Same difference.

    I can think of one electronic device I would break out in this situation… my Olympus digital voice recorder.

  38. He says:

    Can iPhones record video?

  39. Anonymous says:

    @dburba: it is now. lol

  40. Anonymous says:

    i fly southwest or northwest. maybe not as cozy, but i’ve always had good experiences with fa’s. (i’m a BIG tipper). i always get more than just the 2 drink limit.

  41. Anonymous says:

    @dburba: durba not being discriminated is a right. noone else was told to turn off their electronic device. sounds to me like this fa hated apple or iphone, (who knows but i know there really are haters of all sorts) and if you stood in 8 hours to buy one, i know a few people that want to punch you in the face. don’t know why? but there are those kinds of people out there.

  42. MercuryPDX says:

    @JRuiz47: For all you know, they did. The OP doesn’t mention anyone else being asked to turn anything off, witness any other passenger in the same situation putting up a fight (which I think he’d mention), or complying quietly (he’s so engrossed in his movie would he even notice?).

  43. bilge says:

    I’d fly ATA if I could get a ride on one of their L-1011s…Don’t want to have to join the military first, though.

  44. Anonymous says:

    @MercuryPDX: no the article says that when the police became involved the op said noone else was asked to turn off their device. read the article. again.

  45. Anonymous says:

    one word to sum up this whole thing then i’m out……POWERTRIP!

  46. MercuryPDX says:

    @INconsumer: Yes, the OP says that after the fact, not a flight attendant or anyone else in the cabin crew. How does the OP know what’s going on in the plane around him if he’s admittedly too busy watching his movie?

  47. Baz says:

    @amejr999: Amejr999 is correct. You disobey flight personnel at anytime while you are on the plane, you are breaking the law. Casey is lucky he wasn’t charged with “interfering with a flight operation” or some other massive and frightening felony. A lot of cops would easily slip into the “airport=no mercy” mentality and let a judge sort this all out.

    Bottom line is, an airline flight attendant doesn’t have to explain why they asked you to do something. You HAVE to do it, or you are in violation of the law. I would also strongly encourage the advice of WEAVE – arguing with a flight attendant is never a good idea, and having police summoned to greet your arrival is something that a cranky or power-tripping flight attendant would be more then happy to arrange, PARTICULARLY at a low-rent airline like ATA.

    Again – arguing with a flight attendant, IN ANY CIRCUMSTANCE, could very well lead to your arrest. Be warned!

    Now Casey – go get that apology from ATA!

  48. willray411 says:

    For all those people who said just comply. Why are you even looking at this website. You should just comply with everything and have no reason to read this website.

  49. Anonymous says:

    well he did pause it. all he would have to do once paused is look around. and the fa wasn’t upset at electronics, just phones. that is clear in the article. i mean in the faa book they flipped to the phone part, not the general electronics.

  50. humorbot says:

    Oh, the ills of the first world. We feel your righteous indignation, especially that part about being subjected to I Know What You Did Last Summer. Acting like a jackass in the face of another jackass doesn’t make you a hero; it just makes you a jackass. Being a savvy consumer has nothing to do with making a scene, inconveniencing an entire flight, hauling out the airport PD and then firing off a smug letter to the internet. Save the empowerment for something that matters.

  51. Geekybiker says:

    Well even if he wasn’t in the wrong about the iphone, he was wrong to challenge the flight attendant repeatedly. Anyone who give them trouble can end up in jail very quickly. Stupid wide ranging anti-terrorist laws….

  52. Anonymous says:

    anyway, i’m tryin my best to not get sucked into a pointless arguement here. all sides have said their point of view, nothing more to comment on.

  53. Smoking Pope says:

    Although I dislike people wildly exceeding their authority (and doing so in a snotty or shrill manner), I would’ve turned it off. As noted before, interfering with a flight crew’s duties is a vaguely written law that gives them a lot of power, including the power to have your ass dragged off in chains.

    The rule itself is vague for a good reason in that it gives the crew of a flight broad powers to react to and deal with many different situations. Whether or not you like the rule, I feel more comfortable knowing that the flight crew can lawfully demand that a passenger stop trying to open the door at 35,000 feet, and if he fails to do so can have him physically restrained and arrested.

    Still, bone up on your technology you histrionic, neo-Luddite, close minded excuse for a flight attendant who is employed to serve the public and not needlessly hound them.

  54. North of 49 says:

    it has gotten to the point where the average passenger is almost afraid to fly. Not because the planes are crashing or blowing up, but because they might be arrested for looking, doing, acting, or not doing the “right” thing at that exact moment in front of the flight attendants. They wield a smidge too much power, imo. And this is just another example.

  55. DanKelley98 says:

    Perhaps FAA rules aren’t keeping up with new technology such as iPhones w/”airplane mode”.

    On the other hand, just because Apple’s website says its safe to use on a plane in “airplane mode” doesn’t make it so. I did just read about the exploding Powerbook….lol.

  56. Anonymous says:

    @MercuryPDX: How do you know that his iphone might interfere with the equipment? Especially in a “no-xmit” mode. When is the last time you worked on an aircraft? —-4 yrs experience Comm/Nav Journeyman USAF

  57. Anonymous says:

    @North of 49: i am with you all the way there! i’m never nervous from crashing, just them finding my stash! lol just kidding.

  58. MercuryPDX says:

    @INconsumer: I agree with you here. It’s stupid to argue about, but it certainly does generate a ton of comments and page hits, no? ;)

  59. MercuryPDX says:

    @INconsumer: Theoretically, your stash would be safer in your checked luggage on a domestic flight… or so I’ve been told.

  60. Anonymous says:

    nah, i think dogs sniff your baggage, lmao, that didn’t sound right. i keep it in my wallet. they never want to go through that it seems (i realize can’t smash too much down in wallet) but i’m not trying to build an empire, just keep myself entertained. i was told that almost every dog you see at an airport is trained to sniff for bombs and not drugs.

  61. Anonymous says:

    I avoid these kinds of situations by doing LITERALLY everything in my power to keep from setting foot in an airport/airplane. I don’t know if anyone’s noticed, but you basically have no rights in either of those two places anymore. You can be searched, you aren’t allowed to say specific things, carry specific things, and if a TSA or other acronymmed official even think that you might, in some dimension under some circumstances, be capable of resisting their orders, you will be detained and harassed. Car, bus, train, or you could help save the earth a little bit by just not travelling.

  62. Alger says:

    @breny: Well, yeah, but here at Consumerist, somebody will crap all over you even if you were clearly in the right. It’s just how things work here.

  63. MrEvil says:

    I’m hoping on newer aircraft the manufacturer’s are putting forth an effort to install more Faraday shielding. I’m pretty certain newer aircraft are, but the U.S. airliner fleet has some pretty old birds still flying which aren’t shielded, the rules are easier to follow when you just say no across the board.

    Mythbusters did a test with an ILS beacon inside a faraday cage. They got one cellular frequency to disrupt the bearing on the read-out, so it is true that cellular transmissions have the potential to disrupt at least one aircraft system. They tested with a modern all-glass cockpit lear jet on the tarmac and according to the pilot none of the plane’s systems were disrupted. This was tested with phones and with a signal generator.

    One thing Mythbusters couldn’t test was the effect using a cell phone in flight would have on the cellular network. Cell towers I don’t think are 100% capable of dealing with the doppler effect of a phone traveling at 300mph. So it’s not like your call is going to be very stable or very clear either.

  64. Alger says:

    What’s ironic is that for every story like this, there are tons of people who ignore the turn-off-the-cell-phone directive and just leave them on for the whole flight, and tons of people who have the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functions of their PCs turned on – and don’t even know how to turn them off. If these were really problems, planes would be falling out of the sky on a daily basis.

  65. Chongo says:

    SOmething tells me this incident needed the drama that was involved. No maybe it will get some attention and be fixed.

  66. Blue says:

    “..why cant you just do what you’re told and turn the damn thing off? Would it have killed you to do so? I’ve run into the same problem and even after explaining about airplane mode, they still ask you to turn it off. So i just turn it off..why are you so special that you cant follow instructions?”

    My Pocket PC cannot be TURNED OFF!! There are (2) modes of operation…..flight mode and not flight mode!!!

  67. Anonymous says:

    i think what it boils down to, is if you read on flights, your going, whats the op’s problem? and if your like me and like to bring electronics on with you, your like, that better not happen to me.

  68. girly says:


    I realize it said “online” and that really is different, but as I said, they may have viewed it as equivalent, plus as I also said, the OP trailed off at that point.

  69. ElenorR says:

    I think that upon the second request from the Flight Attendant the OP should have turned the device off. Yes it is inconvenient and perhaps he did not have a book and would have been bored, but while this particular Flight Attendant seemed to be on a power trip, the majority of FAs are trying to make sure a large number of people in a small space travel safely.

    How dare he decide to put his “individual rights” above the good of every single one of those other travelers?

    From his story, it seemed that the FA simply did not understand what “Flight Mode” meant. The FA had how many other passengers to attend to? Did he really have time to get a lesson on technology?

    It would probably have been far more effective to do as the FA asked and then take 10 minutes to let the people at ATA’s customer service desk know that they should educate their in-flight crew about changes in technology and how FAA rules will apply.

  70. JRuiz47 says:

    Same thing with my Treo.
    The unit can not be turned completely off without removing the battery.

  71. @btdown: I was wondering who’d be the one to claim first asshole post. Anyway, perhaps because he shouldn’t have to if he’s not causing any problems? To be honest, I’d be in civil dispute attorney’s office the next day inquiring into the possibility of filing charges of harrassment and defamation of character (if possible).

  72. consumeristReader says:

    I believe that Casey, the original poster, should have turned off the device and filed a complaint later.

    Although Casey was right in this instance, we can’t have passengers making the final decision on any disagreements they have with the flight attendants. This is bad policy.

    What if, in another case, the passenger is dead wrong, but honestly believes they are correct.

    I do believe the flight attendant should be held accountable for incorrect enforcement, but that should occur after the plane lands.

  73. girly says:

    CONSUMERISTREADER, now that makes sense!

    I’m all for people standing up for their rights, but I don’t think this right was so urgent that it couldn’t wait for a complaint and be verified.

  74. impudence says:

    @Baz: I work as a criminal defense attorney in NYC. I am by no means an expert or even particularly knowledgeable when it comes to aviation law. However, I can say with some certainty that interference with flight crew members and attendants 49 U.S.C. § 46504, states that the interference with the flight crew member/attendant must be by way of assaulting or intimidating.

    It seems to me that Casey did neither in this case.

    In addition, you do not have to do whatever a flight attendant tells you to do. Just as you do not have to do everything a police officer tells you to do. You only have to follow “lawful” commands.

    Last but not least; I apologize but my profession dictates that I state:

    This is not meant as legal advice to anyone. I am not your lawyer. If you need legal advice consult your attorney.

  75. Critcol says:

    The first time I flew with my iPhone, I got stopped at the XRay machine and the security guard started to say something about iPhones not being allowed on airplanes. I started to freak out and ramble about airplane mode when he cracked a smile said he was kidding. It was the first time he ever saw an iPhone and just wanted to play with it. :- )

  76. SadSam says:

    In this situation, after I was told a second time I would have turned it off (even though I knew I was right) to spare my fellow passangers the pain of watching me argue with the FAs. I would have noted the FAs name and followed up with corporate if I was so bent out of shape.

  77. Lordstrom says:

    The police should have arrested the flight attendant for wasting their time.

    Anyway, as an iPhone owner, ATA can kiss my ass.

  78. CurbRunner says:

    BTDOWN AT 05:55 PM said:

    “asshole..why cant you just do what you’re told and turn the damn thing off?”

    Zieg Heil, Brandon!…

    You’re right in lockstep!…Unfortunately,
    Taking a lemming response to uniformed authority is just going to enable these jerks to continue this kind of crap with disregard for any facts/truths about any given incident like this.

    Thanks to Homeland Security laws that now allow flight attendants to subjectively interpret that you are attempting to interfere with a flight crew, you can automatically be considered a terrorist suspect.
    They apparently haven’t been trained or even given the facts necessary to be objective in reacting to incidents as described in the article.

    Some people, when given more than an ounce of authority, without the smarts to use it, often resort to the kind of response displayed by the flight attendants in this situation.

  79. Mike_ says:

    I’d love to say this is entirely ATA’s fault, but you’re just as much to blame. As others have said, passengers are required to follow flight attendants’ instructions. You’re not allowed to say, “You’re wrong, so I can ignore you.”

    You tried to explain the phone was not operating in a transmit mode, and that it was no different from any other MP3 player, laptop or similar electronic device. She told you to turn it off anyway. Turn it off!

    If you feel you were treated unfairly or that the staff was poorly trained, that’s a legitimate customer service gripe. Ask for the flight attendant’s name, and the name and phone number of her supervisor. Take it up with ATA when you get home, not when you’re trapped in a flying tube with 250 other people 40,000 feet over the Pacific Ocean.

    Yes, ATA needs to better prepare its staff. But you need to learn how to conduct yourself as a member of the traveling public. When the plane pushes back from the gate, it’s not about your rights as a consumer anymore. It’s about getting you safely to your destination. If you had a poor experience, take it up with the airline when the door opens and the captain turns off the seatbelt sign.

  80. thepounder says:

    This requires a new shirt from TShirtHell saying something about “I’m using my iPhone and there’s nothing you can do about it.”

    Anyway, it was simply bullheaded ignorance on the part of the steward. He simply had no idea that an iPhone does many more things than makes calls, yet he didn’t care to learn. Maybe his feelings were hurt because the “offender” wouldn’t simply turn it off. I wouldn’t have turned it off either.

    An old Army saying applies here — Stupidity on your part does not constitute an emergency on my part.

  81. @hypnotik_jello: damn — beat me to it

  82. thepounder says:

    @ElenorR: Actually it should work the other way around. The steward should know what he’s talking about before he goes spouting rules that don’t apply to the situation.

    I certainly see your point. I cannot, however, agree with it. I cannot agree because I like watching a good fight. ;)

  83. thepounder says:

    @CurbRunner: Amen. Love the “Zieg Heil…” part. I agree; do not be a lemming.

  84. LionelEHutz says:

    Commenter BTDOWN = A Good German

  85. CapitalC says:

    Boy there are some technically-incompetent people out there.

    @ThePounder: The shirt should read I can’t hear you, I’m in Airplane Mode

  86. Buran says:

    Wow, false detention anyone? This guy did nothing wrong, what’s the offense?

  87. macgeek says:

    The same thing happened to be on Monday – on a Northwest Airlines flight from St Paul/Minn to Fargo. I tried to explain the situation to the FA and she snapped at me. So I simply turned it off and submitted a complaint to NWA today.

    Interestingly enough after the incident the head attendent gave numerous announcement about “Blackberrys’ need to be turn off.

  88. Nick says:

    Take a look in the in-flight magazine. Most airlines have a list of policies written in them–I know that on Southwest and a few others, they specifically say that phones on airplane mode were acceptable. But I wouldn’t doubt that some airlines forbid them entirely.

    By the way, I think this is actually an FCC rule, not an FAA one. I seem to recall a news story on cell phones, and how this is more a ground cell-system interference issue rather than an airplane-system interference issue.

  89. thepounder says:

    @CapitalC: Niiice. :)

    You should submit that to them. If they print your shirt you get cash plus a bunch of free shirts that various airlines will kick you off a plane for. ;)

  90. Amelie says:

    The most important part of this story is what the FA said, ““You have to do anything I say, I am going to have you arrested”…. Anyone in an official capacity with an airline or airport can do what they dam well please: Call the police to escort you off the plane; keep you hostage on the tarmac for hours; turn the plane around because some pathetic woman finds Arabic speaking men to be terrorists, or chain a mentally ill woman to a bench in a holding cell. Welcome to America!

  91. bugsbenny36 says:

    Where was the Captain in all this? If it was indeed such a big problem, the Captain is usually involved, especially in the desicion to call police?

    The FA has no clue what he’s talking about or what the law is, saying “you will be arrested on arrival” is ignoramous and belongs in movies, not in real life, if it was in fact true, the passenger would have actually been arrested!

    Personally, I’ve had FA’s ask me to turn off my phone, and I told them (and demonstrated) that the device has plane mode and that it was safe…

    One final note, cellphones will not interfere with plane equipment (most airlines will now allow you to turn on your phone immediatly after landing), perhaps if ALL the phones in the plane are on and being used at the same time (which, as we know cannot happen, as our phone service does not reach 30,000+ feet), I happen to know a lot of pilots that don’t even bother to turn off their phones in the first place.

  92. craiggers says:

    ATA and Southwest are codeshare partners. Who wants to bet this douche FA trained with the fool who made Southwest passengers change their clothing?

  93. chili_dog says:

    ATA blows donkeys and ever since they were bought by Southwest, every one associated with that airline has devolved into a walking prick.

  94. ChaosMotor says:

    AFAIK, no ATA = no Hawaii.

  95. ianmac47 says:

    You should sue the flight attendant and the airline employing the attendant for intentional emotional distress– specifically, threatening to have you arrested. You may think its frivolous, but corporate America has demonstrated time and time again, the only way they will correct such shortcomings is when it costs them, and only something like a lawsuit will “cost” enough for them to bother hire halfway intelligent service personnel.

  96. Amy Alkon says:

    because some pathetic woman finds Arabic speaking men to be terrorists,

    I don’t think they were speaking Inuit as they crashed into the World Trade Center.

  97. n301dp says:

    MercuryPDX posted a link to the exact Federal Aviation Regulation (AKA “THE LAW) regarding this issue. I’ll post it here so all you lazy non-clickers can read it:

    § 91.21

    Portable electronic devices.

    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any of the following U.S.-registered civil aircraft:
    (1) Aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate; or
    (2) Any other aircraft while it is operated under IFR.
    (b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to–
    (1) Portable voice recorders;
    (2) Hearing aids;
    (3) Heart pacemakers;
    (4) Electric shavers; or
    (5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.
    (c) In the case of an aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate, the determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that operator of the aircraft on which the particular device is to be used. In the case of other
    aircraft, the determination may be made by the pilot in command or other operator of the aircraft.

    Paragraph C of this regulation is what the OP needs to be aware of. If the airline you are flying determines an electronic device to be unsafe, the FAA and government will stand behind that determination.

    As for the flight crew calling the police for interfering with their duties, here is the exact regulation with regard to airlines:

    § 121.580 Prohibition on interference with crewmembers.

    No person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated under this part.

    Part of this is up to the determination of the crew…if they felt that it was they case they have all right to call the cops, after which law enforcement can decide whether to pursue with charges.

  98. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    I’d be like “oh yeah? I want to, no I DEMAND to speak to the captain. RIGHT NOW.”

    He’d probably go back to hassling a less savvy consumer because the captain wouldn’t take his side. Or would calmly explain without calling the cops.

  99. n301dp says:

    @thirdgen: Nice try…the so called “problem” is not with the autopilot but instead with communication and navigation radio interference. If said interference is occurring, flying the ILS needle would be a huge mistake.

  100. IRSistherootofallevil says:

    ATA can go the hell out of business for all I care. So can all the airlines. Stop the bailout money and that should whip airlines into shape.

  101. pdxguy says:

    @Amy Alkon: Probably not Inuit, but always a possibility of Yu’pik, Athabascan, or Tlingit. They can be rather wily!

  102. Major-General says:

    Well, as much as ATA’s attendents were dicks about it, they were right Buried in the Contract of Carriage under Rule 190 (Baggage) on page 37 it reads:

    “…Cellular phones, cellular phone games and pager use is prohibited after door closing and should remain off in flight. This includes cell phones equipped with airplane mode function.”

  103. kidzmatter2me says:

    @chili_dog: To be technical, Southwest actually just bought several ATA gates, as well as operating several codeshare flights with them. But technically, ATA is a subsidiary of Global Aero Logistics, Inc.

    I don’t think that the flight attendant was right at all, but if the passenger was listening during the safety/security demonstration they say:
    “Federal law requires your compliance with all lighted signs, posted placards, and crew-member instructions.”
    No matter how wrong the attendant was, they had every right to call the police, and the police had every right to arrest him. Kudos to the police officers for having some sense.

  104. Mr. Gunn says:

    CapitalC: The OP, and many others, apparently think they are special because their phone has an airplane mode like 90% of the other phones on the market.

    Just drop the i, people. It’s just a phone, and not really all that different from other phones.

  105. s25843 says:

    I didn’t read through all the comments, but, did anyone notice that, he was on a flight to HAWAII, as in, a series of tiny islands in the middle of the Pacific. I don’t get cell phone service over LAND, nevermind halfway over the ocean.

  106. digitalgimpus says:

    I’m no lawyer… That said, he should get the police report. If the report doesn’t clearly state that he informed the crew the phone was in flight mode… the FA could be charged with filing a false police report. He clearly wasn’t violating the rules which say no calls, the FA accuses him of talking on the cell phone. What were the cops told? If the cops were told he was making calls, that’s a false report. FA can leave the mile high club for the PMITA club.

    I’d get the report.

  107. lestat730 says:

    I give Casey a lot of credit for standing up to this disgruntled flight attendant for what she knew was accepted behavior on a plane. There are to many people these days that back down and obey just to avoid confrontation and potentially being embarrassed in public even if your doing nothing wrong. If flight attendants really don’t understand the FAA rules on this airline then obviously they should take a class on it or something. Perhaps it would even be a good idea to do this several times a year due to the constant barrage of new electronic devices entering the market. Anyway, this woman deserves an apology and some form of compensation would be nice to. So Consumerist, I’d be interested in hearing any follow up articles on this matter should they come to your attention.

  108. obbie says:

    should have said it was an ipod touch haha

  109. girly says:


    good find! Just checked myself at the ATA website [] and saw that it is in the document you mentioned, and the document is dated May 2007.

    So ATA’s policy does not allow cell phones even if they are in airplane mode!

    I wonder if they had that copy of the rules on the plane.

  110. mconfoy says:

    @MercuryPDX: @Baz: @Mike_:

    You all seem to make up this shit. What are you talking about FAA rules to follow all instructions? Here they are, put up or shut up and never post here again: []

    The rules on not smoking are there plain to see. And the idea that this plane is different with devices is nonsense too. Do you people ever fly or just sit at home and make this nonsense up? When has anyone been on a plane that treats hand held electronic devices and laptop computers different based on the type? And by the way, I have left my cell phone on accidentally many times. Remembered, they have considered letting cell phones being used on airplanes, but have not because people don’t want to hear them, not because there is a problem.

  111. mconfoy says:

    @n301dp: I did not read anything about assualt, threaten, intimidating, or interfering with a crew member in the performance of their duty. A crew member being stupid and saying idiotic things and you not following them is not interference in the performance of their duty. Sorry.

  112. rworne says:

    This reminds me of the time I had an argument with some lady over whether using a gameboy on an airplane was safe or not and how it could/could not interfere with the aircraft.

    The arument basically ended when she stated that the gameboy had directional controls, so, it must be dangerous.

    At that point, I just tuned her out.

  113. Baz says:

    I default to your professional wisdom – my observation was largely based on two things: the scene where Ben Stiller gets arrested on the airplane in There’s Something About Mary, and my own desire to avoid situations and actions where my behavior could likely result in an expedient visit from the police. And given the way things are in this country, particularly Phoenix, police in airports seem to be arresting first and asking questions later. My point is simply this: Why get yourself into the situation in the first place?

  114. Baz says:


    From your reference:
    Title 14: Aeronautics and Space
    Subpart A-General

    Browse Previous | Browse Next
    § 91.11 Prohibition on interference with crewmembers.

    No person may assault, threaten, intimidate, or interfere with a crewmember in the performance of the crewmember’s duties aboard an aircraft being operated.

    Based on ATA’s Contract of Carriage, it looks like the flight attendant was in fact carrying out his duties onboard the aircraft while it was being operated. Casey was interfering with this duty by not obeying the FA’s (albeit silly) request and by distracting the FA from his other inflight duties by arguing with him. All I’m saying is, as a passenger, why take the risk with the legal hassles?

    And mconfoy, your statement to agree with you or “shut up and never post here again” was great – have you ever considered becoming a flight attendant? I think you might really fit in over at ATA. They might have an opening or two in Hawaii in the next few days.

  115. chartrule says:

    seems more like the problem was a lack of communications on both sides of the situation.

    The rules as posted by N301DP show that its far more easier for an aircrew member to get you into trouble than for you to get out of trouble (especially in the post 9/11 USA)

    not a fun situation to be in even if you are in the right

  116. Crim Law Geek says:

    @n301dp: I didn’t word myself right. I did not mean to say electronics would interfere with an autopilot. My landing example was meant to show interference with ILS Navigation. I did sort of mention interference with non-ILS navigation when I said that if a plane flying IFR was off course, ATS would let him know before he crashed into something. AFAIK (and I could be wrong), commercial flights are always IFR.

    I assume from your nick that you’re a pilot (whose N number is coming back as “unsuitable for operation” BTW). I’m not a pilot, so I could be completely wrong, but I’m in CAP so I hang out with a whole mess of them :-)

  117. Baz says:


    It’s “Meet The Parents” – anyone else notice how all Ben Stiller movies kinda roll into one?

  118. n301dp says:

    @mconfoy: Would you prefer that I chime using my expertise as a commercial pilot or frequent airline flyer? You are actually incorrect in your assumption…it’s up to the crew to make that determination in flight. Once on the ground, whatever enforcing agency is involved can follow the proper lines of litigation. Also–are you an expert in aircraft systems and avionics? Many general aviation aircraft I’ve flown have more up-to-date navigation and communication systems than some airlines that still may or may not be affected by cell phone and other signals. It’s up to the AIR CARRIER. If you can’t stand it, don’t fly the airline or go about positive means to get the specific policy changed.

    @chartrule: Your first statement hit the nail on the head. The rules are there to help in situations that are uncontrollable, but as you said, communications breakdowns between crew and passengers don’t help travel at all.

    It’s important to remember that flight crew members are humans too and are prone to bad days. Whenever I travel I try to be as courteous as possible. It’ll save plenty of headaches.

  119. Lordstrom says:

    @Baz: Hysteric harassment is not a duty.

  120. Anonymous says:

    I just want to know what kind of reception he was getting while “talking on his phone” over the middle of the Pacific Ocean?

  121. Christan_Eff says:

    @Amy Alkon: To be sure, they weren’t speaking Inuit. This much is true.

    They were speaking ENGLISH.

  122. Trauma_Hound says:

    @btdown: I think the only asshole here is you.

  123. Trauma_Hound says:

    I’ve flown ATA once, never again, worst airline I’ve been on.

  124. jamar0303 says:

    I love my phone; once I flip and twist the screen it looks like a cheap video player, so no one is any the wiser (of course I turn on “offline mode”- that’s just common sense). That’s why I prefer train travel when possible; I can have my cellphone online and doing stuff. So I haven’t had any confrontations over that (well, one flight attendant on Shanghai Airlines did a double-take on a flight to Guilin, but walked away without a word).

    BTW- my phone was a Toshiba 904T. Similar phones that also have the flip-twist screen include the Sharp 903, 902, and 802.

  125. Makes me glad I’ve stuck with my non-smartphone Palm T|X. I can read e-books, watch movies, play games and listen to MP3s, and to look at it, it doesn’t emit any radio frequencies whatsoever. (Of course, it does do Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but I can shut those off.) And oh yes, I can use it as an organizer as well. :)

  126. djxspike says:

    I think this says something about ATA and the intelligence of their employee’s… I’ve been on 5 flights in the past year on 2 different carriers and BOTH have EXPLICITLY mentioned “airplane mode” during their spill about electronic devices…

  127. bonzombiekitty says:

    I think sometimes people need to learn to pick their battles and how to fight them, even if they are in the right. The guy with the iPhone was in the right in this case, but he took a tactic that resulted in inconveniencing the rest of the plane. Really, the thing to do would have been to get the name of the FA, turn off the phone, and complain about it later. The reason I don’t really blame the FA for not just giving up the fight is because in a situation like this, I’d rather err on the side of caution.

  128. mbrutsch says:

    Yeah, why can’t you just show them the receipt, and stop being an asshole!

  129. Jaysyn was banned for: says:


    Online? How can you be online with no outside connectivity? Please use a little sense before start blaming the victim here.

  130. lhutz34 says:

    So let me get this straight. Having to show your receipt at Best Buy is an outrageous unconstitutional affront to your privacy, but if some power-tripping flight attendant demands that you turn off your authorized electronic device and stare at the back of the seat for the remainder of the flight, he’s in the right and he can have you arrested if you don’t comply?

    I have enough trouble not teeing off at the TSA idiots, but I usually encounter some intelligence once I’m in the air. I guess it was too good to last.

  131. girly says:

    I am using sense and I’m not blaming the victim for anything but overreacting.

    I don’t think what the OP did was a big deal, but they made it into one and as it turns out they are a bit in the wrong.

    If you read my posts more carefully, I was postulating what the FA might have been thinking.

    I also wondered what the full rules were since the OP trailed off.

    And after all that I did post that I read the ATA contract and it doesn’t even allow cell phones to be on in ‘airplane mode’.

  132. girly says:

    to clarify: “I don’t think what the OP did was a big deal, but the OP made it into one and as it turns out the OP is a bit in the wrong.”

  133. Baz says:


    Agreed. But telling someone to turn off a cell phone is technically a duty of the FA, even if executed immaturely and unprofessionally.

    That a-hole FA’s right to demand that the cell phone be powered down and stowed is protected by law – a passenger’s right to be free from “hysterical harassment” is not protected by law.

    The way to fix this problem is to request that our elected officials revisit FAA rules and guidelines. Arguing with a flight attendant will get you absolutely nowhere fast – no matter how right you think you are or how idiotic/bitchy/rude the FA is behaving.

  134. Saboth says:

    I dunno, I remember the last time I flew they told you to turn off all boys, cd players, whatever.

  135. xamarshahx says:

    Majority of flight attendants don’t have any clue what airplane mode is, and being that my skin is brown, I don’t bother arguing as they will probably haul me off on terrorism charges.

  136. Groovymarlin says:

    Oh right, here we go, blaming the consumer as usual. WTF is wrong with some of the commenters on this site? They’re awfully anti-consumer, ironic considering it’s and not

    Anyway, that flight attendant was a total douchebag as was the head FA. I hope Casey or whatever his name was got their names and mentioned them specifically in his complaints to ATA, and includes details on how said douchebags wasted Casey’s time as well as that of the other passengers and the police!

  137. latemodel says:

    Its all crap. That plane can be struck by lightning and still fly just fine. Otherwise, a teerrurist(Bushism) would just ship suitcases full of cellphones and then CALL them while in flight. This is what happens when people that have no comprehension of technology make rules governing same.

  138. Veeber says:

    ” BY G VOLL THE MOLE AT 10/10/07 06:06 PM

    What you should have reason to doubt, however, is the mental capacity of your average in-flight attendant. “

    Why is it that whenever someone has an argument with “customer support agent/flight attendant/cashier/cop …” you get this argument that people in those jobs are on average stupid? Focus on the one person and stop generalizing about other people who may not have had the privledge to do your job.

  139. crackblind says:

    @CurbRunner: Godwin’s law. We can end this thread.

  140. @thepounder: I thought that went, “A lack of planning on your part…”

  141. Javert says:

    I am curious, what does his use of a phone have to do with other people using laptops and mp3 players? He was using a phone. Also, airplane mode is not available on all phones so now an attendant must go around and check each phone to make sure it is in flight mode? How about this? No cell phone use. That makes it much easier then to keep things straight. A good point was brought up about following the instructions of the crew…that is mandated by law. Why could this person simply have not shut his movie off instead of making a point over the fact that he wasted so much money on an apple toy?

    And, for the record it has been shown that cell phones and electronic devices do not really mess with the navigation systems. If they did, with how many people forget to turn them off before putting them in their bags, the airlines would ban them. The reason for the electronic devices at take off and landing is so you are not a complete self centered moron and can follow instructions. As for the cell phones…I think it is for the sanity of the other passengers. There is not need to use cell phones on flights and in such close proximity I would be tempted to break the cell phone of someone gabbing next to me on a flight of over 20 minutes.

    Get over yourselves. Sometimes the posts on this site are insightful but most of the ones here are ill thought out. Flying is not a right. You don’t like the rules, DON’T FLY. Oh my god…can you really go that long with out showing everyone your new apple toy that cost you soooo much money????? Yes, the fligt attendant could have been a little more reasonable but I still blame the passenger for not just shutting the movie off. With how many people do not like flying in the first place how dare he create a disruption because ‘he knows best.’ Though he should not have been arrested, he should have been fined for not complying with simple instructions of the crew as is mandated by the FAA.

  142. polarbz says:

    Of COURSE he should have done everything the flight attendent has to say! Sheesh, he’s nobody! The flight attendent is a demi-god on the plane! No one should stand up for their rights just because they can. Everyone should let their rights be taken away one by one because they don’t need or use them all the time.

    People who don’t exercise get fat. People who don’t exercise their rights get shorn.

  143. @Major-General: Why couldn’t they have said that airplane mode doesn’t count/isn’t good enough or at least said that he couldn’t use his cell phone instead of saying that he can’t talk on his cell phone. If the FAs had said that they could have avoided the argument.

    The FAs just didn’t want to listen to the passenger. I hate people like that: they give an order and refuse to hear why you can’t do it or why the order doesn’t make sense, etc.

  144. ATA hires morons.

  145. @Rectilinear Propagation: Ah, sorry, he does say the first FA said ‘use’ not ‘talk’. It’s the rules cited by the second FA that specify talking on the cell phone.

  146. paulinsanjuan says:

    I’m with casey.

  147. jamar0303 says:

    What is the point of an Airplane Mode (called Offline Mode on my phone) if it can’t be used on a plane? Isn’T that the whole damn point of airplane mode?

  148. girly says:

    @POLARBZ I don’t think the OP should be denied his rights, I just think that he could have tweaked the way he pursued his right given the relative unimportance of the situation.

    I think filing a complaint with the FAA and with ATA would have been the best course of action.

    It is strange that ATA didn’t seem to know their own rules.

    I wonder if the May 2007 copy of the rules, or any copy mentioning ‘airplane mode’ was on the plain.

    The OP could also campaign for a change of the ATA and/or FAA rules.

  149. Crymson_77 says:

    @MercuryPDX:The main problem in regards to shielding? It isn’t actually shielding anything from consumer PEDs. Consumer PEDs are required to meet very stringent standards put in place by the FCC (and that is the only part of the FCC that has a clue). Also, this has been tested by labs and broadcast via the Discovery channel on Mythbusters and it was found that PEDs don’t do a damn thing (even in the smallest amount) to completely unshielded avionics or communication devices from an airplane. What this really is is a long standing knee jerk reaction that shouldn’t even be in place today as it no longer applies. The only reason you shouldn’t have them out on take-off and landing is so that if the plane crashes it will cause fewer causualties (as it that would really matter in a crash).

  150. ms3e says:


    Philosophically, I side with Casey, but Major-General is right…

    The ATA Contract of Carriage spells it out that ATA prohibits cell phone use, even in airplane mode (search for “mode” in this PDF [])

    The FAA permits the airline to decide whether it is permissible to use phones in airplane mode or not. []

    The only wiggle room I can see is if the airline erred in its rulemaking by categorically denying all phones with airplane modes. FAA advisory [] says that “the air carrier or commercial operator [is] to determine whether a particular (emphasis added) PED will cause
    interference when operated aboard its aircraft.” So if ATA hasn’t tested iPhones (or if they were not actually experiencing interference), then it may be that ATA’s restrictions go too far.

    So more power to you Casey, but I’d say that was a close call… :-o

  151. @jamar0303: I think the cell phone manufacturers need to talk to the FAA if they’re going to go around telling people that their phones can be used on airplanes.

  152. axiomatic says:

    My favorite part is the people who think this iphone in flight mode could effect anything in the plane.

    FYI, people, FACT here, the EMF and potential radio interference has about a 5 foot radius. So if this guy was sitting front row first class. The FA MIGHT have an argument, but if this guy was back in coach. There is NO WAY it could interfere with the plane, ILS, etc.

    Casey did the right thing and ATA FA was being a “Pocket Hitler.”

  153. Johnie says:

    Similar thing happend to me on a flight from Taiwan to Thailand in July. I just got my iPhone and was watching it on the plane. The flight attendant came over and said: “ooh, is that an iPhone?” I go through the standard demo and then she goes: “Unfortunately, you can’t use it on the flight. It hasn’t been approved yet to use in the air.” I conceded and just went along with it because I remembered reading something about how FAA hasn’t fully tested it when the iPhone was released.

    BTW: the airline was KLM and the flight attendant was a gorgeous tall Swedish blonde.

  154. Lordstrom says:

    @Javert: Seig hail, sir! We shall smite our enemies carrying those evil iphones for the glory of law and order and the state!

  155. magus_melchior says:

    @btdown: I smell a troll.
    @ChewySquirrel: I smell another troll.
    Neither poster replied concerning their original comments.

  156. trekkie says:


    Last I knew the big airlines use EFIS and GPS, and not much on ILS. That being said, yeah, interference bad. That also being said, planes are pretty shielded so the typical GSM dancing noises you hear on your speakers and junk at home sometimes probably aren’t.

    That being said, as someone who flys a lot, the ATA guys were a bit postal about it. That makes no sense because every blackberry, or other smart phone doesn’t really turn off either. You put them in ‘airplane mode’

    And what kind of BS is that ‘not shielded for phones in Airplane mode’ ? Last I checked the radio is off, so how could a phone device with the radio off cause interference that some other electronic device couldn’t and require ‘extra’ shielding.

    I call bullshit on this one. I would have argued too, especially on those long ass flights.

  157. davidc says:


    You wrote:

    “Also–are you an expert in aircraft systems and avionics?”

    This implies that the FA / Supervisor were “experts”. If the OP’s story was correct, neither were. They reacted to the “cellphone” issue, which was a none issue.

    As far as the whole “interfering” is concerned, I find all the “lemmings” suggestions to be highly offensive.

    As more people submit to this mentality, the more of a “hostage” status we take on. Just because I get on a plane doesn’t mean I need to act like or be treated like a hostage.

    If an FA doesn’t like what I am doing, but I am being peaceful, they can pound sand. I only have to obey “lawful” instructions. Whether the instructions were lawful, I will leave in the hands of a judge.

    The only way bad laws are changed is when we stand up for our rights and go through the court process.

    Lemming mentality hurts all of us. Don’t be a Lemming.

  158. davidc says:

    @ all the “turn off your cellphone” … guess what, the OP’s “cell phone” was off.

    Just not the rest of the device!

    Just because the iPhone is one part “cell phone” that doesn’t mean the entire device is a “cell phone” now does it?

    Guess what, my laptop has SKYPE installed, does that make it a ‘cell phone’? When I put a Verison Card to get celluar service into the slot does that make my laptop a ‘cell phone’?

    No, it doesn’t. The OP complied with the FA before hand and turned off the “cell phone”. The mistake was trying to explain “air plane mode” and not just saying: “The cellphone part is off”.

    The day of “single-function” devices is quickly fading away.

    How does that affect FA’s? Their only job is to request that a CUSTOMERS turn off their “cell service” … not the actual device.

  159. eventhorizon07 says:

    I think what a lot of these airlines forget is that the entire time 9/11 was happening every passenger on those flights who were able to use their cellphone, were using it. And I’m pretty sure that it wasn’t cellphones that caused those planes to crash.
    All those phones on those planes and I bet below 10,000 feet for quite some time.

    If they hadn’t used their cellphones we would never know the heroism of a lot of those people.

    C’mon, those two can’t tell the difference between talking on a cellphone and watching a movie!?

  160. ludwigk says:

    You don’t have rights when you’re flying. W-Bush took care of that a long time ago. The FAA regulations and Patriot Act require you to comply with any Flight Attendant directive. Seriously, they can drag you off the tarmack and throw you in jail for years without a trial. Is Jennifer Love Hewitt worth that to you?

    Take it up with ATA *after* you leave the airport, and have your civil rights properly restored. Sheesh.

  161. polarbz says:

    I think once the flight attendent realized that he was wrong, he bucked up and changed his story to try and maintain his sense of being right. Then when THAT didn’t work, he tried something else. This isn’t about the airlines, but about a flight attendent who is too insecure to admit when he made a mistake.

  162. Airbus-Driver says:

    As an airline pilot, I would like to apologize for your treatment by this aircrew. I don’t work for ATA, but bad actions by one of us reflects badly on the rest of us, and I wish more crews would realize this.

    First off, the line about shielding is a load of horsepuckey. Shielding is not selective that way, and rarely varies from airplane to airplane (of the same make and model). It varies by model and customer option. This FA was flat-out lying.

    Second, cellphones CAN cause radio issues for us. I have personally witnessed this by experimentation on repositioning flights. By using various electronic devices (a shaver, a few cellphones, etc) we were able to get radio noise and needle deflection, and one autopilot disconnect. Nothing that will crash the airplane, but stuff that will cause trouble. This is why the FAA bans them. (Besides, do you really want to be trapped in a metal tube for a few hours next to some jackass who feels the need to yammer on his cellphone about how important he thinks he is, or how the thing on his neck is getting bigger, or whatever inane thing he thinks will make everyone around him impressed? I wouldn’t…)

    There are reasons we do some of the more “stupid” things we do. The reason we have you put your things away for takeoff and landing is that those two events are usually when airplanes crash. If the airplane crashes, we would like you to be paying attention and prepared to leave as quickly as possible. It would really suck to survive the impact only to burn to death in the fire because you weren’t paying attention. This is the same reason we insist you wear normal clothes. Miniskirts and tube tops are not going to help you if you have to get out of the airplane in a hurry. We always plan our actions “just in case” and spend many, many hours in simulators practicing emergency scenarios. The passengers would do well to be just as prepared. Most airline crash victims survive the impact and are killed in the post-impact environment. You VASTLY increase your chances of survival by preparedness.

    As far as the “Screw the airlines, stop the subsidies!” sentiment goes, let me be completely clear on this subject:YES, STOP THE SUBSIDIES AND AIRLINE TAX BREAKS. IF YOU ARE NOT SATISFIED WITH OUR SERVICE, DO NOT FLY. IF THE SECURITY CIRCUS BOTHERS YOU, DO NOT FLY. Right now our management is hopelessly addicted to these tax breaks and subsidies. It’s like heroin, but unfortunately legal. They are killing our industry for their own personal gain. Our pilot group has taken a 60% pay cut since 1999, and we have lost our retirement and most of our health benefits, so the company can “save money”. They negotiate millions of dollars in concessions from us, then turn around and award those millions to some executive as a “performance bonus”. It’s a slap in the face and it’s killing the industry. Anything that puts those money-hungry vampires out of commission is fine with me. The security circus is a joke, and a bad one at that. They’ve confiscated my flashlight four times now because I might use it as a weapon. (On one occasion I found the flashlight taken from me later on the TSA desk being used by TSA employees.) The whole system stinks and it needs fixed, but nobody seems to have the guts to wade into the mire and fix it. (“When you are up to your arse in alligators, it is hard to remember that your original objective was to drain the swamp.”) The only way I see for the industry to repair itself is for enough customers to leave that the whole thing falls apart from the top down. Only one thing will drive the execs out, and that will be when the money goes away.

    Geh, this is getting long and I have to get moving. In any event, please don’t blame all of us for the actions of a few rotten apples. By and large we’re all good people trying to make a living. Every time I have problems with a FA I report them to scheduling and make sure I don’t have to fly with them again. Enough pilots do this and they’re out of a job. One less jerk to ruin things for all of us. Everyone I work with does the best they can with what we have. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense to the passengers, but there’s usually a reason for everything. In this case, however, I hope this asshattery is punished.

  163. mstevens says:


    1) It doesn’t matter one whit whether cellphones cause interference with avionics (as they assuredly do not). What matters is that there is a regulation about their use (that doesn’t really apply to the poster’s situation).

    2) One IS required to comply with flightcrew directives. Even if they’re being excretory orifices.

    3) Just tell them, “oh, it’s not actually an iPhone. It’s the new iPod Touch. I understand your confusion now, since they look just the same but the iPod Touch doesn’t have the phone.” Perhaps not 100% true, but in my opinion an iPhone in “airplane mode” is the moral and electronic equivalent of an iPod Touch. It’s not the responsibility of flightcrew to keep up to date with all the latest toys, nor should they just believe what some yahoo tells them. Why not make it easy for both them and you?

  164. Benstein says:

    What pisses me off is that when I get told to turn off my iPod Nano during takeoff. I comply, but as an Electrical Engineer I know that there is absolutely no way, in this dimension or in any other, that an iPod Nano would EVER interfere with ANYTHING. Ever. Period. I would like to meet the witch doctor alchemist that told the airliners and/or FAA this load of crap. Transmitting devices are one thing (wi-fi and cell phones), but low powered DC devices are a completely different animal. This is Physics 101.

  165. bendsley says:

    When does a cell phone have service well over 10,000ft. anyway, especially to/from Hawaii flying over the ocean?

    I don’t see how they could accuse someone of talking on their phone where clearly there probably are no cell towers.

  166. Treved says:

    I had a similar experience, and I’m glad I stood up to the FA.
    I was living in the US on a student visa. When I was given the visa, they stapled it into my passport and told me to never give it up to anyone.
    Flying from NY-Vancouver through St. Louis, I tried to ask the gate agent in St. Louis for a different seat. No problem, just let me see your passport for ID. I handed it over, the guy gave me my new boarding pass, and then RIPPED OUT my visa and took it.
    I demanded he give it back, and he kept insisting regulations required him to take it. I explained over and over that without it, I could not get back into the US and continue school, that he was wrong, and that he had to give it back.
    Finally he agreed to give it back, with the caveat that he was alerting customs officials in Vancouver and I would be arrested upon landing. I think my exact words in response were “bring it on.”
    Needless to say, nobody was waiting for me in Vancouver, and moreover, when I went through Customs and Immigration, I related my story and they told me (a) the guy was wrong, and (b) had I not gotten the card back, I would have been screwed.

    Don’t let these tin bullies screw up your life!

  167. Airbus-Driver says:

    @Benstein: It’s a safety issue. We ask you to turn things off and pay attention during the takeoff and landing because those are the times that we are most likely to crash the airplane. If you are alert and paying attention when the airplane crashes you stand a much better chance of getting out alive. Most airline crash fatalities occur in the post-impact environment. This is also why we don’t like it when people where short skirts or other constricting clothing. If the worst should happen it’s not going to help you get out of the airplane.

  168. Crymson_77 says:

    @Treved: Congrats to you! I am glad you got your visa back and could get back to go to school! What an ass that guy was!

  169. @thirdgen: The iPhone actually does show a little orange airplane icon when you’re in airplane mode.

    I have fallen asleep before takeoff and absent-mindedly forgotten to turn off all sorts of personal electronics and nothings fallen out of the sky yet.

  170. @Airbus-Driver: I think short skirts might actually make it easier to flee a crashed airplane.

    But maybe I’m wrong and long pioneer-style dresses are actually easier to run in.

  171. starrion says:

    If you read the thread on Reply #60 spells it out pretty clearly.

    ++ The FA was enforcing an ATA policy. ++
    They (the airline) do not allow the use of Cellphones with or without airplane mode.

    Cribbed from reply #60
    Upon boarding an ATA aircraft, the passenger agrees to ATA’s Contract of Carriage. The first paragraph in it states: “These rules constitute the conditions upon which each carrier agrees to transport, and are expressly agreed to by the passenger to the same extent as if such rules were included in the passenger’s ticket and/or ticket jacket.”

    RULE 190

    Electronic Devices
    There are certain portable electronic devices that function as a ?miniature broadcasting
    station? and, as a result, may cause interference with airborne navigation equipment
    and aircraft systems. For this reason, the following electronic devices will not be
    allowed to be operated at any time while on ATA Airlines, Inc. aircraft:
    ? Portable TVs
    ? Radios
    ? Remote controlled devices
    ? Wireless computers/ mouse
    The use of portable cellular phones, cellular phone games and pagers is permitted
    while in the jet bridge and aboard the aircraft while parked at the gate prior to door
    closing. Cellular phones, cellular phone games and pager use is prohibited after door
    closing and should remain off in flight. This includes cell phones equipped with airplane
    mode function. Upon arrival, cellular phones and pagers may be used only after
    an announcement has been made authorizing use.

    The ATA flight attendant was FOLLOWING the ATA policy, and enforcing it. The passenger, so called “expert” on rules, was in violation of the Contract of Carriage. Whether or not you argree with the rule isn’t the issue. The rule was there, and the passenger was in clear violation of it.

    Casey was wrong. The FA was right, and if he had better communication skills the issue could have been avoided. :

    FA: Excuse me sir, you are going to have to turn that off.
    Casey: The cell phone is off. It’s in airplane mode.
    FA: I’m sorry. ATA policy is that ALL cellphones including those with Airplane mode MUST be turned off at all times.

  172. Benny Gesserit says:

    I’m waiting for someone to blame this whole thing on an iPhone update that Steve Jobs downloaded into the phone himself.

    Maybe the stewards and stewardesses got a faulty update from ATA and were bricked.

    No, I didn’t write “flight attendant”. When they’re cool, efficient and do their jobs I use that phrase. When they’re bratty and whiny, I call them “steward/ess”.

  173. VidaLondres says:

    I would have just insisted it was an iPod, and then he could have sucked a nut, dude.

  174. Anonymous says:

    These crew were amazingly ignorant. If you had flown any major half decent airline, they would already have policies in place for airplane mode equipment which are more and more common… Any piece of equipment in airplane mode (as long as it can be demonstrated that it is actually in that mode) is the same as any other electrical device without transmitting features and subject to those rules.. ipod, video camera etc.

    Although, an overriding law covers the crew in this situation.. that law states that passengers must obey the instructions of any crew member. All crew members operate under the delegated authority of the pilot in command who is THE LAW when the plane is in the air.

    This was poor customer service on the airlines part, and an apology and compensation are deserved, but beware all readers.. if you disobey crew members safety related instructions no matter how lame you think the rules are, you can be arrested.. THAT’S THE LAW whether you agree to it or not.

    I once had a passenger show me a piece of equipment that I wasn’t sure about its safety implications. The passenger courteously explained to me that it had been allowed previously, and it was a simple call to the captain on my part for clarification. The captain ok’d it.. problem solved. If the captain said No, it doesn’t matter if it was ok on a different flight, the captain sets the law when it comes to safety onboard.

  175. girly says:

    @treved I agree you were right to stand up for yourself, but I think in the OP’s case this was one where waiting to resolve the situation after the flight wouldn’t have caused him any harm.

  176. Anonymous says:

    I do not work for the FAA and have not run the tests that says certain things interfere. How many of you do??? All I know is what their rule is and they must be followed. As a flight attendant I can tell you I do not appreciate the disprespect most people give me and the job I’m trained to do. Sure I give you peanuts and coke and I pray that’s all I ever have to do, but if there were an emergency, would you look to me for assistance or Mr. IPhone? I try to stay up on the latest technology, but if I’m not sure, “Better safe than sorry”. I may not agree with the rules, but my job is to enforce them and I certainly don’t go to other peoples jobs and argue their company policies with them. If asked to do so TURN IT OFF! It’s a phone for God’s sake! There are people dying of diseases and in war everyday. You have and IPhone!!! We get it.

  177. RvLeshrac says:

    Too many posts to respond to, and I think these have been covered in various posts, but to summarize (and possibly add):

    1) You are not required to follow every order the FA gives you. This is common sense. If the FA tells you to get out of your seat and lie face-down in the aisle for the entire flight so that he/she can sit down, you tell them to piss off. If the FA tells you to turn off your transmitting communications device, you comply. If the FA tells you that you can’t have another martini, you acquiesce.

    2) The FA could have avoided this entire scenario by simply telling the OP that ATA’s policy is to not allow any cellular devices in-flight, regardless of whether or not they are transmitting. It may be an idiotic policy, but the OP *did* agree to it when the flight was boarded.

    3) Communications devices *can* cause problems with flight instruments. This is similar to the way taking a piss on the third rail *can* electrocute you. Which is to say, not particularly likely – but it has happened.

    4) The FA was a jackass. Don’t call the police unless you have your story straight. If you can’t even figure out what law someone is violating, they probably aren’t.

    5) The OP overreacted a little. That doesn’t excuse the FA’s attitude or actions. Turning off the phone completely would have been reasonable. Asking WHY the phone should be turned off wasn’t an unreasonable request, but the FA’s request wasn’t wholly unreasonable to begin with. Uninformed, but not unreasonable.

    6) ATA’s policy is asinine. Portable TVs and radios don’t broadcast anything. They emit an EM field just like every other electronic device under the sun. If you’re banning radios, you may as well ban digital watches.

    7) Just don’t fly with ATA, ever, and you can avoid this. You can further avoid these situations by not flying when it is at all possible.

  178. jamar0303 says:

    I do frequent trans-Pacific travel, so that’s not possible. But, I can take my money to more supportive airlines, such as ANA or Singapore Airlines (should have gotten a mileage card from one of them to begin with instead of United…).

  179. dualityshift says:

    @Baz: It didn’t sound like he was arguing to me. Rather, it sounded more like he was asking for clarification to the FAA rule he was breaking. Had he told th FA to screw off, then he could be arrested, however, you need to look at the scope of the rule of obeying the FA.

    If the request seems reasonable and does not interfere with your privacy or comfort, you should comply.

    If the request is like this one, do not argue, but ask your qualifying questions, such as which rule or law are you breaking, and ask to see proof of this. This isn’t an unreasonable request, considering the FA’s should KNOW the rules, and there should ALWAYS be a FAA rulebook on the plane. If you want to make sure you are in the right, do what they ask while they retrieve the book. Have them look it up, and when it does not apply to you, politely say, “Thank you for the insight, however, this rule does not apply here. Was there another rule you wanted me to review?
    In a situation such as this, I would have looked at the FA, after the rules didn’t apply, and said, “I am NOT breaking FAA rules. Tell me something, is your life that awful that you would risk being known by the media and this the free-world as the FA Nazi? The FA who was not intelligent enough to know what the in-flight FAA rules are? ATA won’t be in your corner to defend you whaen YOU make them look bad, son.”

  180. @Treved: Did you file a complaint? That guy was completely out of line!

    At best he had no clue what he was doing and needed more training. At worst he’s a bigot who does this to anyone with a Visa just to screw over anyone from outside the US and needed to be fired.

    I’m also glad you got your Visa back.

  181. erratapage says:

    The carriage contract is a contract of adhesion. I don’t get to negotiate with the airline about the terms of my purchase. I only get to decide whether or not to fly. I don’t read the airline’s policies before I book my flight. I certainly don’t know anything about shielding or ILS navigation systems. I do know my portable electronic devices have airplane modes, however.

    A properly trained flight attendant could have explained these issues that we are discussing here in great detail here. I’m quite certain that most of us want to be safe in the air. We just don’t want to be subject to someone else’s power trip.

  182. tranish says:

    To those who think we should just do as we’re told – we’re living in a culture of fear if you think you need to comply with whatever some ill-informed, power-hungry flight attendant is telling you and when you know your device is NOT causing any airplane interference.

    I guess we are.

    Anyway, I have used my phone before on a flight to make an important call while we were still in the air. It’s such a myth that having cell phones on the plane will disrupt much, like that person had posted, when we have air traffic controllers constantly communicating with the captain and observing things in the air.

    Also, I recall that one of the planes involved in 9/11 had a passenger who used his or her phone to call emergency while the plane was crashing.

    I think cell phones were originally not allowed on flights because they were in direct competition with the in-flight telephones, which were not so popular…

  183. Schminteresting says:

    Wow, is this ever the neverending comments post!

    Took me 30 minutes just to get through all the comments, only to be left wondering why I just spent 30 whole minutes reading all the comments. Guess it beats working!

    Anyway, uh, so, I have nothing to add that hasn’t been said. Thanks for reading. Good-bye.

  184. salguod_senrab says:

    @IMPUDENCE: As much as it pains me, it appears that this scenario could be construed as a violation of 49 USC 46504. From Lexis:

    Provision prohibiting intimidation of flight crew is constitutional, is general rather than specific intent statute, and evidence supporting defendants’ convictions was sufficient; defendants repeatedly refused to relinquish boombox as requested, made angry declarations of vulgarity in response to requests, and very real threat they would play radio com-ponent and thus cause malfunction in navigational equipment was doubtless intimidating. United States v Hicks (1992, CA5 Tex) 980 F2d 963, cert den (1993) 507 US 998, 123 L Ed 2d 178, 113 S Ct 1618 and cert den (1993) 508 US 941, 124 L Ed 2d 640, 113 S Ct 2417.

  185. Rusted says:

    The OP could have avoided this battle. Betcha he’s on the “So you think you’re gonna fly?” list.

  186. Major-General says:

    @Rectilinear Propagation: Sadly in my experience airline personnel don’t have access/haven’t read the pertinent documents. Though if they had the FAA regs on board, I’m surprised they didn’t have the contract of carriage.

    I don’t dispute that the airline could have handled the situation better, but it is also Casey’s responsiblity to read the contract of carriage, if not have a copy with him.

    Conversely, could we be reading a different story along the lines of “Casey is complaining because after refusing on principal to turn off his iPhone that was in airplane mode, ATA cancelled the remainder of his ticket, and it cost him xxxx hundreds of dollars to fly home.”

    Because frankly, I think the airline would have been within their rights to cancel his return ticket.

    @RvLeshrac: ATA’s policy on radios and tv’s is law.

    @Airbus-Driver: I’m guessing, in order, Northwest or United. American, maybe. Am I right, without naming names?

  187. AlexPDL says:

    WOW! I think I’ve had this flight attendant on ATA… we had landed into Indianapolis… and the plane had stopped for a second. He then says… I KID YOU NOT “our seat belt sensors have detected that several of your seat belt buckles are undone, we are not moving this plane until you buckle up” … WHAT?! How dumb do some flight attendants think we are?

  188. jz33040 says:

    AMEJR999 “Actually, there is a FAA rule requiring compliance with all instructions from the flight crew.”

    LOL, assuming those instructions don’t break FAA rules. So what you have just said here is that there is an FAA rule requiring compliance with all instructions from a flight crew who are BREAKING FAA rules by asserting something that ISN’T an FAA rule. That’s a good one. The passenger was trying to follow FAA rules and did the right thing.

    I also think the crew knew that there must have been an inflight mode but were too immature to admit he was right. They just wanted to bully him. Come on! 4 flight attentendents were not bright enough to see the phone was an mp3 player in “in-flight mode”? You’d think when he said it had a special in flight mode and offered to show them, they would have just said ok and had a look. Then using a big of common sense they would have thought it over a bit. NO, he just demanded he do anything he said. The flight attendant forced the issue and was a jerk.

  189. jz33040 says:


  190. MercuryPDX says:

    @mconfoy: What part of the link to the FAA rule in my post was made-up?

    Your own link has the same rules listed (Emphasis mine):

    Sec. 91.21

    Portable electronic devices.
    (a) Except as provided in paragraph (b) of this section, no person may operate, nor may any operator or pilot in command of an aircraft allow the operation of, any portable electronic device on any of the following U.S.-registered civil aircraft:

    (1) Aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate; or

    (2) Any other aircraft while it is operated under IFR.

    (b) Paragraph (a) of this section does not apply to-

    (1) Portable voice recorders;

    (2) Hearing aids;

    (3) Heart pacemakers;

    (4) Electric shavers; or

    (5) Any other portable electronic device that the operator of the aircraft has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication system of the aircraft on which it is to be used.

    (c) In the case of an aircraft operated by a holder of an air carrier operating certificate or an operating certificate, the determination required by paragraph (b)(5) of this section shall be made by that operator of the aircraft on which the particular device is to be used. In the case of other aircraft, the determination may be made by the pilot in command or other operator of the aircraft.

    I reiterate.. it’s the carriers call on what electronic devices can and cannot be operated on a flight.

  191. jz33040 says:


    That’s a good point about how do they know it’s airplane mode, BUT they also let everyone else with mp3 players use theirs. I know an mp3 player can’t be a phone, but then HOW do they know which are must mp3 players and which are phones and which are both? You just said they don’t have time to know when someone is in airplane mode.. So they also don’t have time to know each model and manufacturer of every device and what they do. Therefore, they should either tell everyone NO to using anything, or let them use them. Or use some common sense which the flight attentdent clearly lacked.

  192. Anonymous says:

    Being a Retired ATA Flight Attendant of many years…. I can tell you that complicance to ATA’s rules and regulations is not taken lightly. ATA has an impecable air safety record. With that in mind 35,000 feet above ground we expect the Passengers as well as the Cabin Crew to comply with all safety regulations. I realize this was an inconvience to you…but we as airline professionals expect complince to Our rules and regs. I realize the iphone in question is somewhat of a new device. But once asked by a FA to turn off your phone or whatever it is you are to comply . Like it or not. There has to be some type of respect and honor system in our society today.

    Hope you had a good time on your trip anyhow.

  193. Corpilot says:

    As a corporate pilot (Citation X) and a mechanic with extensive avionics training. I can tell you that I have never had an aircraft issue with cell phones in ANY mode of flight (Heck they sell headsets with cell phone adapters for pilots). I also believe that following rules and regulations is in everyones best interest. That said, the gentleman was RIGHT there are no FAA rules prohibiting cell phone usage(most rules on cell phone usage are FCC rules). And he was right about the FA being an ass. Keep in mind most flight attendants dont have a aviation technical education and have never read the regulations to any great extent. ( heck pilots many times get confused with the archaic regulations we must comply with. In this case the FA was wrong and ATA should offer the customer an apology, clarify its own rules and retrain their FAs.

  194. joeonsunset says:

    To the would-be lawyers warning about an imagined law against “interfering with a flight attendant,” including THIRDGEN who selectively quotes the law, 49 USC 46505 actually illegalizes interfering with flight crew by ASSAULTING or INTIMIDATING them. (It helps to actually read the whole paragraph, although I don’t know how you could miss this since it comes first.)

    Although I haven’t reviewed the case law, I doubt that saying, “I don’t believe I have to do that” qualifies as “intimidating.”

    That said, there might be another more general law criminalizing failure to comply with FAA regulations, and an FAA regulation requiring passengers to comply with the flight crew. Although airlines always tell you that FAA regulations require you to “observe” the instructions of the crew, it’s not clear what that means nor can I find any law punishing simple failure to do so. Can anyone point us in that direction?

  195. Trackback says:

    You know how Apple thoughtfully included a cell signal, WiFi and Bluetooth-free Airplane Mode on the iPhone so that the wunder-device could be using as a media player in flight? Well, apparently ATA didn’t get the memo.

  196. dlab says:


    Yes, that is the most important thing. Here in America, abuses of power are tolerated if they are “for the greater good.”

    Casey had every right to act the way he did, particularly given how much airplane tickets cost these days. Fact is, in-flight prohibitions on electronic devices are precautionary regulations. They are more about passenger control than an actual risk to aircraft instruments.

    Doesn’t anybody watch Mythbusters?

  197. MadMags says:

    @Casey: you were correct to continue a legally permitted (and totally fabulous) personal electronic device.

    @Many of you: what interesting thoughts you have dears.

    @Many more of you: Baaaaaaa. Do what the nice air hostess/train conductor/FBI man says – even if he is wrong, violating your rights or just plain stupid.

    Get off your fat lazy asses and stand up for your rights and the rights of others.

  198. Jim_H says:

    Systems Engineers and Airlines are very concerned about interference to electrical/electronic systems in the aircraft from portable devices. Current aircraft use sensors and computers that are not only effected radio signals (such as cell phones) – but are also concerned about signals generated by portable devices that contain micro-processors (like the IPhone, laptops, game devices, etc). Aircraft wiring and associated devices are shielded to prevent interference from external signal sources – but as with everything these do break down over time and sometimes allow signals to enter. Portable device designers/manufactures are also required to build devices to eliminate signals that might escape their device while operation – those too break down over time or can become disabled/disturbed when the user opens the device for service, upgrades, etc.

    Design engineers have run and recorded many real-world instances where a portable device’s signal has been picked up through shielding – hence the FAA Regulations on the topic.

    Example: The Fuel Quantity computer in a Boeing aircraft operates at 300 mhz and has many wires attached to the sensors in the fuel tanks in a constantly flexing wing. Many older laptops and games operate at that frequency – and if the fuel system wiring isn’t shielded perfectly – and/or the laptop is allowed to transmit from poor case shielding, the result is fuel gages displaying incorrectly – or blanking completely. Or, something that doesn’t effect the operation of the aircraft, but the error does effect our computer that results in a very expensive computer being removed and tested to confirm a possible real fault.

    Most newer aircraft use fly-by-wire technology that eliminates all cable control – meaning that something like an engine or flight control is totally controlled via simple shield wiring running right under your seat or in the sidewall panel just feet from your device. Even when a device is produced per FCC transmit/interference regulations (look at the little sticker on the back of the device) – it is still very possible for it to leak interference into an aircraft system in close proximity.

    We would prefer that no one operate any device while in flight – because that’s the only way to be truly safe.

    And to the folks that want us to wait until an aircraft crashes before we take action – that’s not REALLY what you want is it ???? I didn’t think so….

  199. Crim Law Geek says:

    @joeonsunset: I was busy studying for Wills and Trusts when I cited the USC re: intimidating flight crews. I did read the part about assault and intimidation. To make a case for intimidation, all the prosecutor would have to do is show that the FA felt intimidated. This is ridiculously easy to do:

    Prosecutor: How did you the defendant’s actions make you feel?

    FA: Well, I was scared, specially after 9/11. I thought maybe there was a reason why he wouldn’t stop messing with his computer thingee.

    Prosecutor: What would you describe his demeanor as?

    FA: Well, he was being really pushy, I would say maybe even intimidating.

    Prosecutor: What is your job on the plane?

    FA: I clean, eject fornicators from the bathroom, do cross-check on the doors, etc.

    Prosecutor: This the defendant’s actions keep you from performing these actions?

    FA: Yes, I was on my way to kick out a couple from the bathroom when I noticed was using his device after I told him not to. When I told him to stop it is when he get aggressive.

    There, in four questions, the prosecutor has shown the required elements under the statute.

  200. just a girl says:

    I have been a flight attendant for nearly a decade. Its f/A’s like this that make us look bad. Unless it was written in ATA’s guidelines there is no reason that the ‘Iphone’ could not have been used above 10,000 feet in ‘airplane mode’. Which in that case the F/A could have nicely shown the guy.

    Also, it is policy for flight attendants to be up-to-date and current with all rules and regulations of their airline which can be found in their on board manual. If it is printed in the manual that the ‘Iphone’ or similar device is safe to use well then there is no standing in court of law. We are required By Law to know that information. If an FAA inspector stopped any F/A on airport grounds and asked any question that could be found in the on board manual and the F/A responded incorrectly then the F/A will be fined.

    On another note, there are so many F/A’s that are jerks our credibility is low. Therefore, if this goes to court guaranteed the judge will laugh and hopefully this guy will be compensated.

    You have to nearly physically assault a F/A and have witnesses for an F/A to press charges that they felt threatened to hold up in a court of law. This situation will not satisfy the “I felt threatened”.

  201. salguod_senrab says:

    As you point out yourself, it might be helpful to read the caselaw. The case I cited above makes it clear that the possibility that the defendant might continue to use the device and cause interference was itself a separate and distinct cause of intimidation. Admittedly there were other (more valid, IMHO) facts used to support the finding of intimidation, but a future case could easily find that simply refusing to turn off a device believed to be causing navigational problems was itself an act of intimidation.

  202. pat9639 says:

    I have been frying for over 30 years. The rules have changed for us passengers due to our buddy Bin-Ladin. Airplane security & the overall industry has been in termoil since 911 but, so has the rest of us. Flight attendents or even the ticket agents have lost their patience with passengers. There is nobody willing to go out of there way for the passengers anymore. Airline people (not pilots) do not deal with passengers with respect or sympathy for being late or delayed. I have missed flights because the gate agent wouldn’t even try to get a bag through to the plane only being 5 minutes late. I know rules are rules. It’s OK for us to sit & wait for the no show crew or other delays. Airlines need to wake up & be more accomadating to passengers. We are your meal tickets. This is not only with lost cost airlines only, the big boys United & American are just as bad. What happened to the days when the Flight Attendents when riendly & nice. This power thing went to their heads.

  203. Ray0259 says:

    This is just another case where the government has taken away all of our rights because of 9/11. This flight attendant should have been thrown off the plane first, then we could talk about breaking rules. And to those people who think it’s best to just do nothing when you’re being harrassed and you’re in the right, I hope you all burn in hell with the rest of your pathetic, spinless, idiots. If you don’t know you’re job, (flight attendants), then you should just stay at home with the rest of the loosers in this country. Oh, and by the way, if ever a fa puts a book in my lap, he/she will go out the window. I’d gladly go to jail for that.

  204. JPWeston says:

    While I can’t say much for Casey’s taste in movies, it does appear that he made a crucial mistake. He attempted to reason with an unreasonable person. When faced with that unfortunate circumstance, one has a choice;
    (a) abide by said unreasonable person’s demands or
    (b) assert one’s rights in a peaceful way

    I have the feeling that the heaping of abuse that FAs take on a daily basis has more to do with the FA’s knee-jerk reaction than anything else. You can find plenty of accounts of revolting passenger behavior on the internet if you care to look. Then again, this particular FA may just be a power-mad ass.

    In any event, I actually approve of Casey’s stance. Perhaps the FA, and most likely the FA’s boss, learned a valuable lesson regarding the responsibility associated with being in a position of authority. When you are given authority, getting it right matters. If you don’t get it right, getting laughed at by a couple of cops as a ninny usually takes one down a peg or two.

    I won’t even go deep into the technical discussion of whether cell phones actually interfere with airplane navigation systems other than to say that Boeing and others have analyzed the issue exhaustively and have never been proven to show any interference under normal operating conditions and the most comprehensive study done, by the Civil Aviation Authority of the UK, proved that the cellphone would have to be operating at maximum power within 30 cms of key electronics to cause any disruption.

    So if the pilot of your plane is on his cellphone during takeoff or landing, please have the FA make sure they turn it off. Happy travels.

  205. PatrickPortland says:

    I had the displeasure of flying on a FILTHY United flight (#17 JFK-SFO) last night and got similarly harassed by flight attendant “Judy”.

    Lucky for me, there was no threat of being arrested, but my god, did she make a scene.

    She got so bent out of shape that when I asked for a gin & tonic during beverage service, she refused, accusing me of “if you’re too drunk to follow simple instructions about using a cell phone, I’m certainly not giving you a drink.” Mind you, I was stone sober when I boarded the plane.

    Once every few years I get stuck on a United flight for one reason or another, but my experience last night just topped the cake. Never EVER again.

  206. Anonymous says:

    You cannot be arrested for using the iphone in this manner, you can, however, be arrested for not complying with an order of the crew member weather or not that order was smart or not you are legally obligated to do anything they tell you to do so long as you do not believe it will jeopardize the flight or the lives or you or your fellow passengers.

  207. Anonymous says:

    It is a shame that you typical air steward isn’t a blog hungry dolt waiting to pick a fight with somebody who happens to know less than someone else. Why couldn’t she just switch it off? They clearly didn’t get it, and ‘Casey’s’ actions made her seem like a pedant, and only served to waste the time of half flight crew simply doing their job, not forgetting the time of the police.

    Sorry if this post is “excessively self-promotional, obnoxious, or even worse” but if you publish this crap, then have a comment box under it, you are asking for it.