I suppose a more apt question may be why don’t passengers follow crew members instructions on most flights, but I really felt sorry for the SkyWest FA working my SFO-BUR flight yesterday.
After the aircraft door closed, she asked passengers to turn off their electronic devices. Few seemed to comply. I was sitting toward the back of the plane and watched as she made her way down the aisle admonishing passengers to turn off their handheld gizmos.
The two woman sitting in front of me, the woman across from me, and the man behind me were all engaged in conversations on their respective mobile phones. At least the two women in front of me made a piecemeal effort to begin to power down after the FA scolded them, but the woman across from me completely ignored the FA, continuing to engage in her cell phone conversation even with the FA standing over and asking her to turn off her phone.
The conversation continued for another 45 seconds and I was surprised the FA kept her cool and did not have the passenger removed. It’s one thing to sneak in a text or e-mail, it’s quite another to continue thumb your nose in the face of the FA as she’s trying to prepare the flight for departure.
Sadly, I see this happen a lot–though much more so on regional jets than on UA’s mainline flights. One explanation could be that I am usually in first class or Economy Plus on United, so I am sitting with more seasoned travelers who "know the routine." I question that, however, because in my experience the "DYKWIA" frequent flyers are the most egregious offenders.
Maybe people just think because it’s a little aircraft it just doesn’t matter–but I really felt bad for the FAs today.
I actually think that the electronic restrictions are unnecessary and that mobile phones pose little threat to interference with vital aircraft electronic systems, but I appreciate why an airline might choose to be safe rather than sorry and unlike the TSA, they are not violating the Constitution or even severely inconveniencing me when asking passengers to turn off their precious electronic devices for a few minutes.
So next time you’re tempted to pull out your cell phone–at least do it when the FA isn’t looking. No, no. Seriously, just put it away. You can complete that conversation and e-mail later. Trust me.