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JACK SIMPSON: Another airline travel aggravation

I know it is risky writing about something you do not know a great deal about. I’m talking about flying and cellphones. Anyway, I am about to give these topics the old college try.

First of all, I fly these days only in dire emergencies. My cellphone is ancient. It has few modern features. I cannot text, take pictures, surf the Net. No, in fact, I am lucky if my phone has enough charge for me to use it in an emergency!

I do remember that a few years ago when I flew to Washington, D.C., we were forbidden to turn on our cell phone when the aircraft was in flight because we might interfere with navigation. This caused me absolutely no problem at all.

But … times change. Airlines have reduced the width of seats, reduced carry-on storage, added fees and crowded passengers into smaller spaces. The FCC is about to permit cell phone use during air travel. I can imagine this has delighted many, many gabbers and business people. Sorry, this infrequent flyer is not among this happy group.

For me, it is bad enough going through the maze of early airport arrival, standing in lines, TSA searches, baggage check, delays, bumps and all the other aggravations of air travel. Now, when finally getting to a seat, maybe between two other passengers, and thinking you can sit down, relax and rest, you will be confronted by cellphone chatter! Babble, babble from all over the plane does not make for a peaceful flight in my travel book!

I wonder if the FCC did a study to see what the noise level from flight travel chatter in a cabin full of people in close quarters in a closed aircraft might be? Talk about being trapped and beleaguered; this is a good example.

As just another passenger, I would have no choice and unless a special place for people like me is provided, our freedom would disappear. We would have to endure the noise and other distractions — like it or not.

Flying for me is stressful enough. Once in my seat, I just want to put my head back, rest in the quiet and pray for a safe, uneventful trip. I am not ready to be forced to listen to cellphone conversations of strangers.

Yes, yes, I am aware that cellphones for calling and texting are valuable tools for business travelers. I also know airlines cater to business travelers. Has the bottom line become more important than customer comfort for all passengers?

Since the airlines themselves can decide if devices can or cannot be used on flights, maybe they should do a few more studies to discover the number of flyers who may disapprove of cell phone use because of noise, nuisance and unnecessary chatter. Cellphones may no longer interfere with navigation and communications — only with peace and quiet! Bon voyage!

Jack Simpson is a former educator, a veteran, an author and a law enforcement officer. His column appears each Friday.