“Switch off your devices before take off”

This is probably the week of travel rants. First, let me caveat this rant by reminding myself that the air travel industry is broken. There is so much wrong with it that it’s not even funny, and that highlights the biggest issue with capital intensive industries. They are difficult to disrupt.

Onto the topic of the day “Switch off your devices before take off.” An air hostess ages ago had said the reason for this instruction was so we paid full attention during take off and landing as that’s when the risk of an accident is highest. That made some sense to me then.

It doesn’t make sense to me anymore because –

1. Passengers are allowed to read a paperback book. But, they aren’t allowed to read on the iPad? Why? Shouldn’t the same rules apply? (If it is “we don’t trust you to switch off your 3G sim cards, that’s a really sad argument.)

2. Over the past few months, I’ve just trained myself to put on my eye shade and nod off during take off and landing. Luckily, I can nod off anyplace anytime. But, if the point of switching off my electronic devices is to keep me alert, then, surely sleeping beats the purpose altogether?

I would love to know if anybody has an answer to this.

The bigger reason for the frustration is the way you are generally told to switch off devices. I have typically seen the air hostesses and stewards walk around like school principals rebuking anyone stupid enough not to shut their electronic devices.

I felt the contrast the other day. I had been reading a passage for an extra couple of minutes before nodding off and the air hostess came in with a rude “you have to switch it off.” Funnily, a second later, a steward passed by, leant to me and said with a big smile – “You know that needs to be off, right?” 

I grinned back, switched it off and went off to sleep.

Yes, I do know. Thank you for being patient and nice. It makes it easier to ignore the fact that I have no clue why I’m being asked to do it.. (let’s not even get started on in flight announcements.)

It’s amazing how easy it is to distinguish yourself in terms of customer service. You just have to be nice! I guess the simple things are hard to do, consistently..