A couple of weeks ago the New York Times ran a piece pointing out that while plane passengers are asked to turn off their mobile phones during take-off and landing, no-one knows why. The Times speculated that if just 1% of American plane passengers secretly left their devices on, that meant 11 million flights a year somehow managed to stay in the air even though someone had left their phone on.
The 1% number was just a guess, though. So last week I got the guys at my company, Holiday Extras, to run a poll and ask our customers. We run our polls on the "welcome back" email we send to customers, so we know that all of our respondents have just flown back from a holiday.
6.5 million people in the UK flew with a device turned on last year, and not one of those planes fell out of the sky. Last week American Airlines chucked Alec Baldwin off a plane for leaving his iPad turned on. This week the same American Airlines plans to let pilots (but just pilots) bring iPads into the cockpit. It is time for this bizarre and unevidenced hypocrisy to come to an end. Millions of planes a year take off and land without incident even when people leave their devices turned on. It is apparently safe for the pilots to have them in the cockpit. If anyone has a scrap of evidence that phones and computers really do intefere with plane instruments then of course safety means we should keep them turned off. But it is perfectly obvious that no such evidence has ever been found.