US Air’s Control Freakery

by on March 9, 2008 · 15 comments

While I’m critiquing random aspects of my air travel experience, I have a question: why are airline attendants such control freaks? I’ve gotten used to the “seat backs and tray tables in their upright and locked positions” restrictions, which could have some safety implications in cases of turbulence. And it’s at least conceivable that the ban on cell phones could be necessary to avoid interference with air traffic control systems. But I’m totally baffled by the rule that was in force between the time we landed the plane and the time we reached the gate: cell phones were OK but other portable electronic devices were not. I can’t think of any plausible safety reason—scratch that, any reason at all—for this restriction, especially when the opposite rule is in force while the plane is at cruising altitude. Weirdest of all, the flight attendant announced, and then diligently enforced, the rule that window shades must be up during takeoff and landing. I’ve wracked my brain and I can’t think of any reason it would matter what position the window shade is in. Do flight attendants (or airline executives) get off on making up totally arbitrary rules to impose on their passengers?

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