Posted May 15, 2008 by Heather Gilbert
Usually the person sitting next to you is annoying because they’re grubbing for the armrest the whole time. What if instead they were on their cell phone for two-thirds of the flight? Annoying? Unsafe? Or completely understandable?
On Monday morning a Southwest Airlines passenger was ticketed for using his cell phone during a flight from Austin to Dallas. According to reports, this passenger had forgotten to turn his phone off, and subsequently received a message that his father was in dire health. Apparently his father’s heart had stopped, and the cardiac team that left the message asked for an immediate call back. At this point, during the flight’s descent into Dallas, Joe David Jones, 50, called the team back and refused to end his call when asked to do so by flight attendants. He was allegedly on the phone for roughly 20 minutes. The flight was met by police at Love Field and Mr. Jones was fined for disorderly conduct, a class C misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to $500.
Readers of the Austin American-Statesman seem outraged. The comments ranged from calling Mr. Jones a “sociopath” to suggesting he be “fined to the max” or even kept “in Dallas where he belongs.” The outrage seems to stem from readers believing that the lives of other passengers were in danger due to interference with the flight's navigation system caused by the cell phone. Being that the European Union recently decided to permit cell phone usage on planes, I’m not entirely sure that this interference claim is true anymore. But then again, I don’t work for the FAA. Or Southwest Airlines.
Tell us what you think, should cell phone restrictions be lifted for “emergency” situations?
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