The Wall Street Journal interviewed me and some of my etiquette consultant colleagues for an article on the etiquette of cell phone usage on airplanes. As you may have read the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is considering allowing airline passengers use their cell phones in flight.
Since being interviewed for the article the FCC has gotten so much negative feedback on the possible rule reversal that they are reconsidering making the change. It seems that even though more and more people are digitally dependent, the thought of having a 100 or so strangers sitting in close proximity yacking about everything and nothing is downright distressing. And despite how much we dislike when people talk on their phones in public places you know all that downtime will beckon people to pick up their phones and inanely talk to whomever they can reach. Think also of the cacophony of cell phone ringers going off as you try to read a book, focus on a work project or catch a few zzzs.
For the sake of our sanity, I hope that the FCC decides not to allow cell phone use on planes. But, if they do, it will be more important than ever to follow cell phone etiquette.
To begin with think long and hard about how necessary it is to talk on the phone. You’ll be sitting six inches away from complete strangers. Do you really want them to hear personal and possibly intimate or confidential details about your life or your business?
If you must have that phone conversation, keep it short and keep your voice down, I mean really down.
Try to text versus talk whenever possible.
Do not share anything you don’t want others to hear, or that they don’t want to hear. Sorry, the exploits of your drunken Saturday night are not interesting to anyone. I guarantee it. And, be very careful about sharing anything business related. It’s simply too easy to end up sharing confidential information when you’re absorbed in a conversation.
Keep your phone on vibrate if you really must answer your phone. No one wants to hear dozens of Hello Moto or bodily function ringtones throughout the flight. Oy, the thought of it makes me cringe.
This situation calls for the Golden Rule more than any other etiquette circumstances. Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you. If hearing a bunch of people droning on about who cares what right next to you would annoy you, don’t do it yourself.
What do you think about cell phone use on planes? Is it an idea whose time has come or something you hope is never allowed? And, if the FCC does decide to allow it what etiquette tips would you add?