Arianna Huffington Escorted Off Plane For Crackberry Abuse

Arianna Huffington, who runs the news aggregation site bearing her last name, was hustled off a plane over the weekend after she continued to tap at her Blackberry after the flight was airborne. The New York Post, following up on a Valleywag story, reports that a guy from Long Island a few rows behind her got really huffy and started yelling at her and the flight attendants.

The man reportedly shouted out, “Hey lady! Don’t you speak English?” and “How come she gets to use her electronic devices but nobody else does?” Both he and the newsmonger were escorted off the plane after it landed for questioning, but were released without charge.

Huffington’s PR rep told the Post, “There was a passenger who seemed upset. Arianna thought he didn’t like the snacks. Guess not. Maybe he was an iPhone fan. As you know, the battle between iPhone lovers and BlackBerry users can get pretty heated.”

No matter your station in life, no one is allowed to use their Crackberries on the airplane after the cabin door is closed until the captain says it’s okay.

Getting ‘Huffy’ on jet [New York Post]
Was Arianna Huffington Escorted Off a Flight by Police? [Valleywag]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

    Nevermind that the no-cell-phones-in-flight interference thing is BS, but whatever.

    Honestly, I think the ‘irate passenger’ is the bigger of two dicks for making a scene about it.

    • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

      BS, huh? You sound just like those people who believe that putting a fork in your hat DOESN’T stop drop bears from attacking you when you are walking around in Australia.

      • Mr. Fix-It says: "Canadian Bacon is best bacon!" says:

        I have this Tiger-Repelling Rock you might be interested in…

      • stormbird says:

        Drop Bears: Australia’s Noisy Killer.

      • LatinoGeek says:

        I also agree that Cell phones causing major interference on planes is BS. But I think the real reason for the ban is that nobody wants to be trapped in seat and have listen to 1 half of someone else’s inane conversation. It’s easier to just tell the average idiot that cell phone use in flight will crash the plane.

        • Azzizzi says:

          It’s for this reason that I hope they never do allow cell phones on the plane while it’s in flight. It’s bad enough when there’s a guy three rows behind you who is so impressed with himself that he has to talk loud enough about himself for the whole plane to hear. The last thing I need on a long flight is a magpie on each side of me chatting loudly into a cell phone.

      • Mom says:

        No that won’t work at all. I just encase my body in tinfoil. That stops pretty much everything.

    • pawnblue says:

      Of course it’s BS. They won’t let you take water on the plane in case it’s some sort of explosive.

      But you can have 200 passengers with cell phones. Any one of them could turn it on silent, put it in their pocket and interfere with the plane’s equipment? Really? 3 year olds have to be fondled for safety but anyone can have a nav disruptor?

      • Wei says:


        No, one cell phone won’t interfere with the navigation, but if the use of cellular devices isn’t prohibited on planes that aren’t equipped to prevent interference, you wouldn’t have one cell phone on, you’d have over a hundred, and that -would- interfere with the navigation.

        • ClemsonEE says:

          No, it still wouldn’t even interfere. Don’t know where y’all got this notion.

          • Wei says:
            • thezone says:

              If you read this closely the sheet constantly uses the words “may” and “unknown”. Truth is they have no idea what cell phones and other electronic devices do on planes. Many people on flights just turn their phones onto silent and don’t make calls. Given the lack of plane crashes given the increase of cell phone use I think it’s safe to say there is little if no real affect on navigation. I don’t blame the FAA for banning the use of devices. But let’s be honest, if the devices were a real problem we would know by now.

          • nonsane says:

            I asked my pilot friend about this, and while no, the phones typically don’t do anything to the equipment on newer planes, when a call is incoming it can mess up the altittude reading which is not cool when you’re landing.

            And again this is newer planes, How do you know its’ not messing it up an older plane in the area on takeoff?

    • imasqre says:

      I think SHE’s the bigger digger dick for thinking she’s above common airline standards. Her work shouldn’t be considered more important than his, or “fame” allow here more privileges on something lie an airplane.. I’d be pissed too.. but I’d just read and not freak out lol.

      • Griking says:


      • BHall says:

        I don’t know… if whatever I am working on is time sensitive and worth a million dollars I would take the kick off the flight. Heck I would take a ban in exchange for a couple hundred grand. She was apparently so engrossed in it that she didn’t even pay attention to the guy; upset at his snacks indeed.

    • sonneillon says:

      Sort of. Yes one cell phone isn’t going to do jack. 400 cell phones on, may cause problems, still probably not. The concern is that cell phones are evolving and using different spectrums while getting more powerful transmitters for a smaller phone. It is not the current incarnation that is the concern as it is that 400 of the next gen or the generation after that could be a problem and it takes forever for the FAA to make a decision so this is just easier.

      • OutPastPluto says:

        I would still be more worried about the irate jerk playing tattletale. Poor impulse control is a bad thing at 20 thousand feet.

        • jesirose says:

          Poor impulse control, like not being able to control your addiction to your phone and make the decision to listen to the rules and turn it off for a few minutes?

    • mewyn dyner says:

      Actually, there is something to it, but it has nothing to do with the plane.

      From the air you can see 10 to 20 times the number of cell towers when over a metro area. Phones and towers were not originally designed to handle this and the phone can grab signal allotment at way too many towers. It can potentially lock people on the ground out of using the towers and has been known to cause towers to go offline in rare circumstances. The problem has been worked on for a while, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s fixed by now.

      The other issue is using your cell in a plane is going to be extremely hard on its battery. It has to transmit at max power to get through the shell of the plane down to each of those many towers it’s talking to. Bye bye battery!

      • ClemsonEE says:

        Not to mention towers are directional and they don’t point upwards. You don’t get a signal on a plane at cruising altitude.

        • mewyn dyner says:

          Actually, you do. You won’t get signal from ones directly below you, but you will get others around you as they aren’t quite hemispherical, there will always be some component aimed upwards. Think of the pattern as an inflating toroid.

    • fsnuffer says:

      Yes, and I really prefer to let the passengers pick and choose what safety regulations they follow. That smoking in the bathroom thing and throwing the butt in the trash is such BS.

    • fsnuffer says:

      Yes, and I really prefer to let the passengers pick and choose what safety regulations they follow. That smoking in the bathroom thing and throwing the butt in the trash is such BS.

    • mewyn dyner says:

      Oh, and about the irate passenger, he could have been seriously concerned. Many people still think that if you turn on a phone in a plane it’s going to fall like a stone from the air. I may get a little pissed off if I think my life is in danger.

      • Erika'sPowerMinute says:

        You’d probably–one hopes–have enough sense to not allow your level of alarm to exceed that of the cabin crew who are presumably as uninterested in falling out of the air like a stone as you.

        And he said, “How come she gets to use her electronic devices but nobody else does?” (sounding remarkably like my four year old) and not, “Turn that off or we’re going to diiiiiiieeeeeeeee!”

        • mewyn dyner says:

          Oh, of course I wouldn’t be flying off the handle, but I would get pissed off if someone was flaunting safety regulations.

          Also of note, seems this guy wasn’t. He was just jealous. :)

    • Virginia Consumer says:

      I have sat in an EMI (Electro Magnetic Interference) lab while testing military grade avionics equipment. You would not believe how apeshit those devices go when injected with even modest amounts of radio interference. Now jack it up with 50 to 100 people all at once and you have the equivalent of an electronic attack on the myriad of equipment in the aircraft.

      Devices are allowed once airborne since this interference is less of an issue once the equipment has been calibrated which is done when the aircraft isn’t moving. Additionally since there is no cell tower to communicate with the phones are just scanning for signals not actively transmitting a full on data/voice stream.

      So unless you have worked in the radio frequency industry you cannot call BS on this.

      • fsnuffer says:

        How dare you post a comment based on evidence. +1

      • ZekeDMS says:

        Thank you.

        Every time one of these posts comes up people start yelling “There’s no evidence, it’s a lie, they just want to make money from their phones!”, and I have to yell at my monitor again.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      Well of course there is always one person who would think that the ‘irate passenger’ is the dick, not the person causing the issue in the first place.

      Your logic is twisted.

  2. donkeydonkeypublicbathroom says:

    I like how the PR rep completely avoided the issue at hand and turned it in to a cutesy phone rivalry. Then again, I guess that is what a good PR rep does.

    • teke367 says:

      A good PR rep would realize iPhone users are more concerned about Android, than Blackberry, and that nobody feels threated by BB anymore.

      Its like saying Yankkes and Royals have a heated rivalry.

      • cloudedknife says:

        lol, royals who?

        the PR rep may have spun it well into something light and inconsequential but it also makes Ms. Huffington seem like a “better than you are” bitch because she doesn’t care about following very easy to follow (whether they’re BS or not, and they are) rules on a plane.

    • greyfots says:

      I KNOW they totally avoided it,
      after all they get paid big bucks to lay of heat from they’re clients, so i think making this comment got her a raise haha

  3. PunditGuy says:

    Every time one of these stories pops up, I’m reminded of Toby’s rant from the pilot of The West Wing:

    “We’re flying in a Lockheed Eagle series L10-11. It came off the line twenty months ago. It carries a Sim-5 transponder tracking system. Are you telling me I can still flummox this thing with something I bought at Radio Shack?”

    • Remmy75 says:

      Its funny you put that cause as I was reading the article that whole speech was running thru my head.

    • Wei says:

      No, but 100 of them would, and since nearly everyone on the plane will be using one if it’s permitted, no one is allowed to.

  4. Blueskylaw says:

    “There was a passenger who seemed upset. Arianna thought he didn’t like the snacks.”

    How do you confuse,
    “HEY LADY, don’t you speak english. How come she gets to use her electronic devices but nobody else does?”
    with I thought he didn’t like the snacks?

  5. cmdr.sass says:

    Didn’t that commoner know that the rules don’t apply to the Beautiful People? Didn’t he know how important she is? It’s a pity that most folks don’t know their place anymore.

  6. Wei says:

    If I did that wouldn’t it be a federal crime (disobeying an airline employee or somesuch)?

    • Marlin says:

      Did you even try and read the story? The airline was not the one sceraming at her to turn it off, it was some idiot also on the plane that was not an employee.

      • Wei says:

        Yes I read it. Have you Ever flown before? They instruct you to turn them off, and not doing so would be disobeying flight personnel, correct? They have been granted federal authority for the duration of a flight. Sucks, but there it is.

        I’m only pointing out that if I didn’t do what I was told, I could expect a fine or arrest when I landed, while Arianna Huffington was questioned but not charged.

        • Hoot says:

          I completely agree. If you were caught doing that (whoever happened to bring the attention to it, it doesn’t matter) and refused to put it away, the police would definitely be on the ramp waiting for you when you got off.

  7. ARP says:

    Nope, not even newsmongers can use their blackberry after the door closes. I see this more and more often. People using their phones during takeoff taxi, etc. The flight attendants will tell them to turn them off. They put them down by their side and pull them back out.

  8. meske says:

    You can still use your berry in the air… just make sure all the radio’s are off (unless of course you’re on WIFI on the plane, and in that case, you can turn that one back on).

    I watch video’s / listen to audio / play games / etc. on my berry when on flights. Just need to make sure you follow the rules.

    Hell. Many of the netbooks with cell radios in them are just as “dangerous” these days as people probably don’t even realize the radio is on when they use them in the air.

    • ARP says:

      You’re right, but this was after cabin door had closed, but before they hit cruising altitude. So, as they say “anything with an on/off switch must be turned off.”

    • madderhatter says:

      Exactly. When you put them in “airplane” mode the radio and wi-fi are disabled. If she did this then what’s the big deal ? What next, digital watches without and on/off switch aren’t allowed on the plane ?

  9. GuyGuidoEyesSteveDaveâ„¢ says:

    This reminded me of an old debate she had with Sean Hannity. When asked how she could blast people for contributing to global warming and terrorism by driving around in low MPG SUV’s(like she owned) and flying around in private jets, when she herself had flown in a private jet there, she responded: “I rode on the private jet because it was going there anyway”. So on the plus side, it appears she’s now flying commercial!

  10. daemonaquila says:

    Wht ws th pnt f pstng ths str. S wht? Thr r dwbs gnrng th (pntlss) nstrctns t sht ff thr lctrncs vr d n plns. Hll, ‘d s ‘m sttng svrl sts frm n t lst vr – flghts. thr thn sng ths s n xcs t tk pltcl smr t lft-wng nws, t’s nn-str nd t’s knd f pthtc tht t ws pstd hr.

    • Limewater says:

      From my experience, when politics comes up, Consumerist tends to lean rather strongly to the left. They also posted when what’s-his-face (Fergie’s husband, who is in a bunch of romantic comedies and stuff) was escorted off a plane for the same reason. They posted this because she’s a celebrity– not because of her politics. In fact, I’d wager that Ben would have made a couple more snide remarks if it had been a right-wing figure who did it.

      • Limewater says:

        Oh yeah, I think Consumerist generally doesn’t like super-wealthy people, either. Maybe that was a factor in posting this article.

      • daemonaquila says:

        Possibly, but left, right, or celebrity, why the bleep do we care? (Regarding the political leaning, I wasn’t referring to a Consumerist tilt, but to the reason the original story was published.) It’s such a non-issue. Seriously, why is it important that Huffington in particular did what people do thousands of times daily on planes?

        • Limewater says:

          Americans love news about celebrities getting into trouble. It’s pretty simple. CNN keeps us all up to date on Lindsay Lohan’s current state of prison/rehab/moving next door to her ex-girlfriend. I can see why they posted this.

    • Coelacanth says:

      No, it’s just really irksome that people – famous or not – believe they’re above the law. Huffington is just a famous case, but those “dweebs” should also be forced to comply. There’re a number of “Bad Consumer” posts on this site as well. Consider this one of them.

      If a law is stupid, people should take an active concern to repeal it. Educate local/Congressional representatives, regulators, and lobby to get ludicrous laws repealed. If there’s scientific merit behind the regulators, then develop technology on planes and/or devices to render the safety concern obsolete, if necessary.

      It’s not up to any one individual to pick and choose whether they believe the law should apply to them and then be surprised if they’re faced with the consequences.

      Watching Mythbusters or cherry-picking one’s favorite scientific study in a controversial matter does not necessarily make one an expert.

  11. badcomedian says:

    Wow, what a flippant reponse by the PR Rep. Inaccurate, just like the HuffPo.

  12. frank1569 says:

    Why is the name of the ‘irate’ asshole missing from this story?

  13. Cicadymn says:

    She doesn’t have to follow the rules like you filthy plebeians. She is just plain better than you.

  14. DerangedKitsune says:

    I would like to see Mythbusters tackle this one; how many active cell phones are actually required to impair a modern commuter airplane.

    Though I figure the industry would squash that one faster than the RFID ep had been.

    • Jezz1226 says:
      • DragonThermo says:

        Actually they couldn’t actually PROVE it because if they did try to test the hypothesis, they’d all get thrown into federal prison. They’re basic cable personalities, not Ariana Huffington.

        The best they could do is put the plane on “accessory” mode and test it on the ground. Under those circumstances, the myth was busted. But then again, they only had the one RFI source. Maybe if they had a planeload of RFI sources on different frequencies, that might make a difference.

        If a strobe light can cause interference on instrumentation, as that aircraft mechanic explained, who’s to say that multiple cell phones/RFI sources can’t cause interference.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          And at the end of the Mythbusters thing it says “The final explanation is that, even though the airplanes appear to be well-shielded against cellphone interference, there are so many different electronics in a cockpit, as well as so many different cellphones constantly coming out, the FAA doesn’t want to do the necessary testing.

          I can’t really blame them; it would take forever. Also, a newer device might do something an older one wouldn’t.

    • s73v3r says:

      Not just modern planes, but you’d probably have to have a decent sample of all the varieties and ages of planes still in service. A plane made 5 years ago might not be affected, but one made 20 years ago and still in service might.

  15. Miss Dev (The Beer Sherpa) says:

    Who says her Blackberry wasn’t in airplane mode? I once had a row-mate who complained to the flight attendant that I was using my iPhone in flight (after being told that we could use electronic devices). I showed the flight attendant that my iPhone was in airplane mode and we all moved on – although I was a little irritated at my nosy row mate.

    • Hoot says:

      Gosh, I would have leaned my elbows so far into their space, or fallen asleep and leaned over their way to breath on them. What busybodies.

    • Carlee says:

      It appears Arianna Huffington was using her Blackberry BEFORE the pilot announced that electronic devices could be turned on. That’s the difference between this story and your story.

  16. Brian says:

    Cell phones causing plane interference is mostly BS, as proven on Mythbusters. Most planes have their electronics shielded against that sort of thing, but even without that it’s pretty rare. The biggest problems are going to be with cell towers (if they even pick up the signal) and the fact that phones turn up the power on their transmitters when they start to lose the tower’s signal. If nothing else, that alone is going to kill your phone’s battery.

    Most smartphones today have an “airplane” mode, anyway, which will turn off that cellular radio and eliminate both any potential interference to the plane and unnecessary battery drain in the phone. It’s there so you can use the phone’s functions that have nothing to do with SMS or making calls.

    In any case, if you RTFA, you’ll find out that the phone call that Arianna was making was while the call was being made the plane was still on the ground. She is hardly the first exec (or even non-exec) to do that sort of thing, but probably one of the more famous ones. The “burly Brooklyn type” a few rows back is the one that turned this from a normal occurrence into a news story, amplified by who she was. Leave it to a Conservative rag to put a political spin on it.

  17. DracoSolon says:

    I don’t think there is enough information in this article to make a correct judgment here. First it appears that a number of commenters here are unaware that you can use a cell phone on plane if the cellular radio is turned off. You can, so just the fact that she was using a Blackberry means nothing in the context of the article. The article does not say the status of the plane when the incident occurred – were wireless devices in airplane mode allowed yet or not? Also, while Blackberries have be slow to include wi-fi it is most likely that the model Arianna Huffington was using did have wi-fi but the article does not say. Nor does it say if the flight in question had wi-fi service and if she had purchased the service. It is also quite possible that she had purchased the wi-fi and that she accidentally failed to turn off here cellular radio by accident – on many models airplane mode isn’t exactly an easy feature to find and use. Finally – given the facts as presented (the objector was escorted off the plane too) in IMHO it is a very probable explanation that “objector” recognized Arianna and he was of a different political persuasion and was intentionally trying to cause her trouble out of spite by causing a scene. Why else yell out rather than just notifying a flight attendant?

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      Actually, if you read the first linked article, all of your questions are answered:

      “Huffington, 60 — a noted author and columnist who runs the online Huffington Post — was about to take off from Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, when she defied the United Airlines captain’s command for passengers to turn off their electronic devices, prompting an angry man to get up from his seat in protest of her continued chatting and texting, sources told The Post.”

      So the plane was ready to take off. All devices in that case should be switched off, not just in airplane mode, and in-flight wi-fi wouldn’t have been on then. It also says there was a direct command from the captain that she ignored.

      It’s easier to just assume it was political, though. More fun, too.

  18. sufreak says:

    Could the phone have been in airplane mode? And she was just typing a draft? Details please

    • RadarOReally has got the Post-Vacation Blues says:

      See my commend above. The linked article explains that the plane was about to taxi, and the captain had ordered all electrical devices off.

      You know, even those little hand-held sudoku games give off a radio signal. Flip ’em over and they have an FCC warning label on them. Most electronic devices do. If the FCC and FAA want to err on the side of extreme caution and ask for them to be off, then follow the rules or lobby for change. It makes people look like entitled douchebags when they feel they’re above the law.

      I love the Mythbusters, but this is one case where I’d rather everyone just turned the things off. It makes me as twitchy as the next person to be without precious electronic entertainment for 10 minutes, but I can bear it for that short period.

  19. DanKelley98 says:

    Isn’t using your phone on a flight illegal? Shame on the FAA (or whatever law enforcement agency) for not arresting or ticketing the offender in this incident.

  20. jake.valentine says:

    Surprise, surprise….another quasi-celebrity with a sense of entitlement. They don’t have to follow the rules. Rules are for the little people……..

  21. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    Wow, the PR rep is a real asshole. How about taking some responsibility for acting like you are above the rules?

  22. common_sense84 says:

    Screw the captain. These devices do no effect a plane at all. We need to accept that as a society and stop giving ass holes ways to screw with people on planes.

    I am sure this policy will sound great to some of you until a stewardess or another passenger decides to get pissed off about whatever electronic device you have in your hand. And you go to jail for holding an ipod.

  23. El Matarife says:

    Her PR rep comment smacks of “I’m better than you are.”

  24. Bsurvive says:

    What’s a blackberry?

  25. stevied says:

    The bytch should have been kicked off the plane. The rat should have rewarded with a free 1st class flight.

  26. waltcoleman says:

    The issue is not the fact that cellphones blackberries, etc. cause interference with communications equipment (though I have read from pilots that is has happened).

    The issue is the fact that you’re in an airplane traveling at 400mph and in the event of a sudden jolt, lunge, stop or roll, that cellphone, blackberry, etc. can go flying and wind up clocking someone in the head.

    I speak of this from personal experience after watching someone take a header into the top of their hardcover book during an aborted takeoff.

  27. DragonThermo says:

    I’m sure she got preferential treatment. If she wasn’t who she was, she’d be arrested and thrown in jail for violating federal law. Instead, she gets a slap on the wrist and the whistleblower gets in trouble. She is one of America’s elite! She is not like you little people who pay taxes.

  28. Robert Nagel says:

    What a putz! Didn’t he know who she was?

  29. curthibbs says:

    How could she get escorted off the plane if it was already airborne?

  30. Bladerunner says:

    The no cell-phones thing is ludicrous. And for those that say “Well, not just one, but if everybody had theirs on…”, that’s stupid. Were it true, we’d have planed dropping out of the sky all the time; EM interference is EVERYWHERE. Heck, think sunspots. And if all a terrorist had to do was create a supercharged cell phone, with a timer to turn itself on in his luggage, don’t you think they’d have done that by now?

    They banned cellphones originally because they were afraid of overloading the cell towers by phones connecting to more towers than should be possible at once, and because they figured it “couldn’t hurt”, since at the time cell phones (and electronics in general, really) were moderately new/less popular, and they didn’t want to have to bother doing real research on the subject. (And to anyone who wants to point out research, I can point out the mythbusters ep, or the fact that NO crash has ever been attributed to EM interference, despite the fact that we KNOW people use them on planes all the time).

    They have CONTINUED to ban these items because they don’t want to give up their power; it is in their best interests to create as many rules as possible that everyone acquiesces to in principle, but violates in private, because that means that they can do what they want when they want; if they want to get someone off a plane, they can find a reason without an issue. Kind of like how a cop friend of mine once said that he could find some reason to pull over literally every person he saw on the road.

    I do think Huffington should have obeyed the rules… but the passenger was in the wrong. He assaulted the entire plane, because a crazy guy screaming is pretty frightening and would make anyone concerned for their safety. So not only is he wrong for having committed the greater offense, he’s wrong because the rule is stupid, and him attempting to help enforce it is just as stupid.

  31. YokoOhNo says:

    oh, but she’s very busy. you don’t understand.

  32. SkyHawk says:

    That PR rep should be fired on account of being a complete douche. If it were my company :P