Cell Phones on a Plane

Why it’s a terrible idea.

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Comments (45)

(44) Dvirah, August 21, 2014 8:04 PM

Possible Good Outcome

Perhaps, since people will talk and will also not want to hear their neighbots talk, the airline companies will be forced into spreading out the seating again (it was not so crowded in the early days of public aviation) so as to give people some privacy.

(43) Dina - Jerusalem, March 4, 2014 2:24 PM

our opinion

In actuality, what difference does it make what we think, because no one will listen to us anyway, unless there's a vote.

I recently read an article that on trains and also on buses there is a greatly increased radiation level, past the danger level, because they are mental boxes, just as elevators.

So a plane will be even worse, because one is in it for such a long time, like from Israel to the U.S., let's say.

Perhaps we should all protest if it is a health issue, because how much radiation can a person take? And don't forget there are also laptops.

(42) Anonymous, March 1, 2014 8:00 PM

I totally agree


Your commentaries are ALWAYS wonderful and thought-provoking. Thanks so much for your insights! I totally agree with you. But, it's not just on planes. I carry a cell phone, but use it only for emergencies, or a necessary connection, when a landline phone is not available. I always say that I just don't want to be TOO available. We don't need to talk to everyone we know 24 hours a day. We certainly managed before cell phones, and I think we'd all be a little less stressed, if we weren't "controlled" by them all day long. It's OK "to hide" for awhile. Private time to do necessary, creative, relaxing, and worthwhile tasks is precious, and we shouldn't spend all of that time on a phone, or other electronic devices. We should be able to "unplug" any time of the week, not just on Shabbat.

(41) Anonymous, March 1, 2014 4:53 PM

Lorie, I plenty agree with you : yes, thanks H' for Shabbat and thanks Lorie for reminding every Jew that shabbath is a time to disconnect for connecting better with our avodath Hachem and that we don't need to be available all the time ! For what reason ? I pray also for cellphones forbidden on board, there is enough noise in planes......

(40) Mary Ann, March 1, 2014 2:14 AM

Cell phones on planes.

As usual, Lori's wisdom shines through. We need down time, from our own cell phones, and from everyone else's!

(39) Jeff, February 28, 2014 9:14 PM

Cell Phones on plane

One of the worst ideas i have ever heard of.

(38) Jon, February 28, 2014 9:13 PM


I can't believe how much people overreact to the idea of allowing cell phone usage on planes. I have a hard enough time hearing on my phone in a car or restaurant...can you imagine how hard it would be to hear on a plane? I can, because I've tried it. Not on a cell phone, but using Google Voice and wifi. I had the volume cranked all the way up on my headset - a level that would have hurt my ears in a quiet room - and still I could barely hear the person I was talking to. That was several years ago, and I've had little desire to try again. The worries about being caught in the middle seat between blabbermouths is just not going to happen....it's not practical to have a voice conversation on a plane.

That said, I would rather let the decision to allow cell phone usage be in the hands of each airline rather than the federal government. The original motivation for the ban on cell phones (and electronics) during flight was for safety reasons, but technology has evolved such that there is no longer a worry about interference from electronic devices. So the law should be updated to allow the airlines to decide the rule, and if an airline decides to allow cell phones, then so be it. Most people will probably opt to send text messages once they realize how impractical it is to carry on a voice conversation (unless they happen to have a noise-cancelling headset, which most probably won't).

As for taking a rest from using cell phones, that should be up to each individual to decide. I personally love to look out the window and enjoy the view from 40,000 feet when on a flight, and cannot understand people who stare at laptops and magazines rather than enjoying a view that would have been impossible less than 100 years ago. But I understand that is each person's personal choice, and so it should be with cell phones. We still turn off the phones one day a week...no need to require it beyond that for those who don't want to.

(37) Yehudah, February 28, 2014 8:26 PM

And while we're at it , why don't we bring back letting folks smoke on planes?

I'd have to go with no. The noise level would be unbearable. But then, I'm old enough to remember when it was considered rude to use a cell phone in a restaurant, let alone in a mass-transit vehicle that no one can escape from. Why add another place where the rude people win? I remember the good old days when a train ride downtown meant a pleasant time reading a book or watching the scenery. Thanks to cell phones, the noise is already so bad on trains that they actually have a quiet car now, which fills up quite quickly. The subway's worse, as the young puppies who've grown up with Iphone's embedded in their hands use these devices, along with earbuds, to completely tune out everyone. You can't even make eye contact with them to get them to move out of the way and let others get off the train, what with their focus being on a device just inches from their face. It's the perfect metaphor for our current times: No wonder they call it the "I" phone.

(36) Wendy, February 28, 2014 8:11 PM

Cell phone use on flights- bad idea!

Protecting passengers' private space and environmental comfort is vital in a situation that is already stressful (flying)

(35) michelle Riddle, February 28, 2014 3:59 PM

I agree with hou., cell phones on planes not so good.

I dont have a cell phone justa house and I am not easily accessible.
I love it that a way.

(34) K. F. Turtletaub, February 28, 2014 2:59 PM

Everyone needs to preserve some time to think.

Everyone needs to preserve some time to think and to recharge one's batteries. If you are constantly available to other people, constantly giving of yourself, when do you have time to recharge your own batteries? Yes, Shabbos is definitely that time, but it is also beneficial to take a half hour here and there to center yourself, to mull things over quietly, to say some tehillim, to do a bit of whatever it takes to keep you centered, so that you have more to give and do not run the risk of depleting your own resources.
On a plane, I often start to read whatever I've brought with me to catch up, but the best plane rides I've had were those where my mind wandered to other things, when I've mulled over a problem or just said tehillim. Then I usually arrive at my destination stronger, brighter and more willing to give to others, simply because my batteries have been somewhat recharged and I now have more to give.

(33) Ginny, February 28, 2014 2:22 PM


All of these comments are good & reflect many of the same reasons I agree that allowing cell phones is not a good idea. However, I have one other reason that no one has brought up: Conversation! Whatever happened to the idea that it may be a tremendous experience to actually talk to your seatmate? I have learned so so much in discussion with the person/s sitting next to me on a plane. With all the technology that isolates us from other people (and that also means the WiFi, Lori), whatever happened to the art of talking to people?

(32) Ann, February 28, 2014 1:07 PM

Cell phones on a plane!!! I vote it down. The noise of all these conversations, is just not healthy.

Being confined to a small area, with several conversations, would make me fly less. I cant imagine sitting next to a person, on the cell phone for a long e
length of time. Thumbs down on that one.

(31) Mitch Rosenfeld, February 28, 2014 12:51 PM

Spot On

Lori, as usual, you're right on target!!! It's bad enough when you have someone who is loud and talking the entire flight just one seat behind you. You're stuck with no where to go. I just can't imaging a row mate on a cell phone. I frequently use my flight time just for thinking and quiet introspection.

(30) Robert, February 28, 2014 4:04 AM

I agree

There is always more than meets the eye when technology is extended an extra mile in this world. Whether for better or for worse. In this case I agree with Lori, enough of noise on the plane! And then there is the show off by a class of people, and the most fearful, the NSA wants to know where you are 24/7.

(29) Pat Bergman, February 28, 2014 3:02 AM

Cellphones on a plane--NOT a good idea!

It's bad enough what you hear on the street, on public transportation, in stores, etc., but can you imagine being in a middle seat with a person on each side of you yammering away for 3,000 miles! And everyone will be speaking at the top of their lungs because of all the noise. Planes are noisy enough without cell phones, esp. at landing when all the passengers pull out their phones to contact those meeting them

(28) Darrell Hart, February 28, 2014 2:40 AM

no phone's PLEASE!

I'm not much for flying but due, I think it is a very bad idea as this will stress people more there is always the baby crying the loud talkers and the people who must play there music openly.
After all this they want phones too!,,,,,are they NUTS!
Now for my next concern safety, I have heard that cell phone can interfere with the planes radar-communication and other Electronics.
And the same can be said about the computers WIFI as I have been told to turn it off each time that I fly, so what changed where is the study that proves it is safe now?
Just the safety concern alone are enough, but the added stress could start a fight between passenger as most people are stress out when they are flying.
I would say due to the over all safety of the passenger, NO CELL PHONES, AND NO WIFI.
Two thing will need to change before this can happen the Electronic that control the planes and the people flying in them
the Electronic maybe the people flying in them I not going there.
So again please NO PHONES.

Anonymous, February 28, 2014 8:46 PM


The technology being developed is to make sure that it doesn't harm the plane.

(27) Cathryn Harris, February 28, 2014 1:49 AM

Cell phones - a test of our boundaries!

The use of cell phones is all about personal boundaries. I agree that I don't think using cell phones on a plane will be a good idea. I love the analogy to Shabbat! As a mental health professional, it frustrates my family sometimes that I am not always available. When I'm with a client, that is my priority and my phone is on silent. It is an important boundary. I haven't always done that on Shabbat, though. I rationalize that I cannot be unavailable from my clients or family if there is an emergency. However, because I empower my clients to not need me between sessions, there is rarely an emergency. It's actually healthy for them that I teach them that I am not always available. They develop resilience and independence. But on Shabbat I'm still always checking my phone, and never really free. And so I am inspired to keep my appointment with Hashem on Shabbat just as sacred as my appointments with my clients, and set a boundary so I'm truly free. That's what I teach my clients after all! (Thanks Lori! As always, you're a great co-therapist!! Blessings!)

(26) David, February 28, 2014 1:20 AM

Talkers to the back

I am old enough to remember when people were allowed to smoke in the back of a plane. Maybe there could be a cell phone area like there used to be a smoking area.

(25) Anonymous, February 28, 2014 12:26 AM

Yes to mobile phones!

However, the user has to pay everyone 6 rows ahead and 6 rows behind $100 each. For people sitting in the same row and one row in front and one row behind, the price is $300. So, now please tell me all about that gall bladder surgery.

(24) Marty MacShane, February 27, 2014 11:57 PM


I can think of no greater torture than being trapped on a plane with my seatmates yapping non-stop on their cell phones!

(23) David, February 27, 2014 10:22 PM

Good Idea

When my loved ones are traveling I may need to speak with them regarding arrangements if something has changed since they took off.
I commute via bus with a ride that is over an hour each way and 98% of my fellow passengers are respectful of each other. And like you said why would I want them to hear my conversation. When I receive calls I tell the caller right away that I am on the bus, which means I have to speak low and briefly. Anyway, most of us, including myself, text more than we talk, that way it does not disturb anyone and it is kept private. (And I can get my full sentence in without being interrupted LOL).
Also many people watch videos on the bus, all with headphones so as not to disturb others.
There would need to be signs to remind people to be respectful and to keep conversations brief and low key.
P.S. You can speak softly while on a cell phone and the person will hear you perfectly. If not, they will surely let you know.

(22) Vedat Bulut, February 27, 2014 9:57 PM

all public transport the same

Thanks Lori. Your opinion on cell phones are also acceptable for public transports and I hate hearing other peoples' talk even sometimes very private on their families or workmates. Thanks Shabat, toda raba

(21) Richard Dennis, February 27, 2014 8:59 PM

I agree PLUS

Not only will I not use a cell phone on a plane, but when I am driving around, any calls I receive are never answered. Period.

(20) Rachel, February 27, 2014 8:53 PM


It's bad enough to be on a bus or train next to someone having a long conversation. (Quick calls -- "can you pick me up? I'll be at my station in 5 minutes" or "Do I need to stop by the supermarket for anything on my way home?" are ok.)
I REALLY do not want to sit next to someone jabbering away across the country or the ocean! And for those suggesting earplugs -- I don't want to have to stick something in or over my ears so I don't have to listen to you. About the only thing that might be workable would be to have a "quiet zone" on planes (some trains do this and everyone is more or less happy.)

(19) David S. Levine, February 27, 2014 8:41 PM

Good For You, Lori

Lori is 100% correct. When on an airplane or bus or subway we don't need to hear our seatmate/neighbor's conversation. Good for Lori in pointing out that travel time should be down time. I salute her!

(18) Steven Kalka, February 27, 2014 7:21 PM

Re: I agree

Planes in flight are noisy enough without having to listen to everyone's cell phone.

(17) Anonymous, February 27, 2014 6:42 PM

I agree.

It does sound wonderful, but I agree that it will make plane travel very unpleasant. I remember when smoking was still available, and as a non smoker, it made plane travel extremely unpleasant. Noise can do the same thing. Maybe the airline could supply those expensive noise muffling earphones to allow people who don't want the noise to be able to be free of it.

(16) Anonymous, February 27, 2014 5:34 PM

quiet time please

I completely agree with you, Lori. There is enough noise from the engines anyway, who needs yapping around you from all possible angles. I usually have a hard time concentrating on the plane. At this stage of my life, I enjoy flying without my (by now grown up) babies. I love to use the time to think, feel, do some old fashioned crochet or needlepoint, read, write etc. In case of a real emergency, there is WiFi. So please, LET's DISCONNECT FOR A FEW HOURS. I love my own company too sometimes.

(15) Fred Campbell, February 27, 2014 5:03 PM

Issue is moot

The objective fact is that cell phones cannot access the network while inflight.
The effective range of individual cellular sites is 5 to 8 miles when the user is within the main lobe of the site (oriented horizontally).
Except for those brief periods when an aircraft is at low altitude over populated areas, a cellular connection is not possible.
If cell phones are to ever be used in flight, the aircraft must be equipped to create a ""hot spot".

(14) David Stanton, February 27, 2014 4:41 PM

I disagree

It is a brilliant idea. If people can use their laptops why can't I use my phone? I mean it is my computer it is how I connect to the world. I should be able to use it if it does not harm to the ability to safely fly.

(13) Anonymous, February 27, 2014 4:22 PM

Missing the point

Do as you would be done by.
If everyone talks, flights will be unbearable and in no ones interest.
Of course Shabbat is important too.
But respect for others is the trump card.

(12) Mary, February 27, 2014 3:41 PM

silence is golden

I completely agree! Sometimes, the only way to produce something that really matters is by not being available.

(11) Anonymous, February 26, 2014 5:14 PM

Ear plugs, please

Simple solution.

(10) Anonymous, February 26, 2014 5:12 PM

Hard to say.

This will likely become a fact of life. Pray God people will be discrete and respectful.

(9) Misis Monk, February 25, 2014 2:26 PM

Worst Than A Crying Chid

No! No! Not a good idea!

(8) Ranee, February 24, 2014 10:56 PM


I think it is a terrible idea to talk on phones on the plane. Not sure it will be safe and certainly will be disturbing to the people around us. On the plane you should be respectfully quiet. People like to read, listen to music, read a book, watch a movie or just rest/sleep. I really think that the cell phones should only be used for an emergency on the plane.

(7) Anonymous, February 24, 2014 3:34 PM

incredible video

anyone who wants to see and incredible short video on the tpoic of disconecting from cell phones http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C16HTQPyU8w
its amazing

(6) Rebecca, February 24, 2014 2:47 AM

no cell phones on the plane

It would drive me insane to have to sit next to someone who was on their phone the whole flight. Please, a little peace and quiet is good for everyone. The calls can wait.

(5) Danny M, February 23, 2014 10:48 PM

Not a big deal

I was on a flight recently and the guy next to me was on his cell phone a long time. I am probably in the minority, but it did not bother me in the least.

(4) Nancy, February 23, 2014 5:45 PM

I agree with commenter #1. It's one thing to have access to WiFI so that we can get some work done. That activity is a quiet one. However, I really DO NOT want to hear another person's cellphone conversations. On an unrelated topic, I try very hard not to talk on a cell phone while I am walking. It is very important to watch where you are going. I have also stopped talking on my cell phone while driving. Lori Palatnik is the the money when she says we don't need to be available all the time. On a COMPLETELY unrelated topic, I must thank Rebitzen Palatnik once again for providing close captioning in her blogs.

(3) Mitch, February 23, 2014 5:09 PM

Disconnection from the phone ia good idea

I agree that it's very useful to disconnect from one thing to connect to pay attention to something else that provides a deeper gratification!
(Disconnect from the phone while flying and while driving.)

(2) Alan S., February 23, 2014 3:23 PM

24/6 ?

Every word Rebbitzen Palatnik said is fine, as I for one do not keep my cell phone on when I am not using it, except in special circumstances. One small issue: to tell people, even euphemistically that you are available 24/6 gives people the impression that you are always reachable.

(1) Carmin Rosenthal, February 23, 2014 12:15 PM

Enough, already with cellphones...especially on public transportation. We have a tendency to talk louder while using our electronic leash and that is very annoying.

G-d bless and stay well


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