Can you hear them now?

My personal favorite quote of the week, from frequent flier Bill Kalmar of Lake Orion, Michigan:

There are so few places these days where we can escape cell phones, pagers, BlackBerrys and CNN. Please let my airline flight be the last comfortable, quiet cocoon that is left to me where I can get lost in my own thoughts.

Bill ain't alone. If the FCC ends a cell phone ban on airlines, count me in among those who aren't looking forward to the flying phone booth in the coming years.

Now, I really shouldn't favor prolonged needless governmental regulations, just because listening to a salesperson loudly drone on his cell phone about shower curtain rings may get under my skin. But I do wonder if an airline may have a business opportunity here by upholding the ban themselves. Perhaps offer no-cell phone flights? Or, at the very least, split the plane into cell and non-cell seating sections (a la smoking and non-smoking of yesteryear). If you're an airline passenger like me who enjoys a quiet multi-hour flight reading or snoozing, rather than being trapped next to a teenager who absolutely, positively cannot be incommunicado from his/her peers for a couple hours, then an airline offering such designations or bans might quickly become your favorite airline.

If the airlines don't go the route of self-banning cell phones on their own flights (if the FCC ban comes to end), I'm buying stock in earplug and headphone companies.

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I don't know, Doug; I'd much

I don't know, Doug; I'd much prefer some numb-nuts salesman talking on his phone the whole flight than trying to talk to me.

Hey what an idea! How about a "no-talking" flight. Where can I sign up?

Hahaha, you're on my

Hahaha, you're on my wavelength Trent! I just want to read my f***ing book in peace. :lipssealed:

You guys clearly don't have

You guys clearly don't have your menacing stare perfected.

How is this? :evil:

How is this?

:evil:

The real problem here is not

The real problem here is not going to be market-based policy setting, but rather the simple conundrum of enforcement of whatever policy an airline might implement.

Let's say Catallarchy Air decides that its profit-maximizing policy is in fact to continue banning the use of cell phones. Splendid...now how are you going to enforce it?

For example, I recently flew on an airline that shall remain nameless (let's call it "JB"). Two twenty-somethings quite nonchalantly decided they wanted to watch "Chicago" on their laptop. Of course, they both wanted to watch it, so headphones were not an option. So they just played it with the volume up for the whole section to hear.

I and others complained to the flight attendants, but all they were willing to do was ask them, not to turn it off, but to turn it down.

Suffice it to say I never flew JB again.

But seriously, how exactly is an airline supposed to enforce a cell phone ban without the threat of FAA fines similar to onboard smoking? You can't use force, you can't kick them off the plane, you can't turn the plane around, you can't (or won't) blacklist them from future flying. I see no solution here.

The airlines are already doing a great job of not enforcing their other so-called "rules" regarding carry-on baggage, intoxicated passengers, loitering in the aisles, babies, and on and on. Without a government-imposed ban, the cabin practically becomes a state of nature.

Even laissez-faire capitalists need the power of the state sometimes.

On the bright side, the worst offenders are likely to be those in First or Business Class anyway...

let's say that Catallarchy

let's say that Catallarchy Air says you cannot use cell phones during take off and landing. They don't actually have to enforce the rule with flight attendants. They could just have a small cell phone jammer turned on during the times they need silence. Japanese restaurants have been doing this for years.

personally, I may use my cell phone for a few conversations during the flight but more likely to connect to my laptop to surf the internet. Of course a cross-country flight (i.e. 5-6 hours) I will probably run out of battery.

Kip, if the passenger buys a

Kip, if the passenger buys a ticket to a flight and is informed that one of the conditions of accepting the ticket is to not use a cell phone on the flight, and then uses one, the airline (in the ideal society) would be free to add an escalating surcharge for every minute the customer fails to turn off his or her phone. Simple, effective, and voluntary.

And not the only way a free market could handle the problem. No state necessary.

Note that the lifting of the

Note that the lifting of the cellphone ban doesn't mean you're going to be able to use your cellphone right away. You still won't be able to use the existing cellphone stations on the ground. Rather, a specific service for airliners will be required. So don't start worrying yet. It's very likely that talking in the air will still be more expensive, so people will likely continue to avoid it.