The businessman in 6A is not heeding the flight attendant's imploration: that iPad is most definitely not switched off. And neither is that smartphone in 14B: according to a recent study, 30 percent of air travelers left their devices on during prohibited times.
The study was a joint collaboration between the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the Consumer Electronics Association, and surveyed 1,629 adults: 815 men and 814 women 18 years of age and older, living in the continental United States.
Of the respondents that traveled in the past 12 months, 95% brought a personal electronic device (PED) on-board.
And besides just iPads, passengers are veritable gadget-wielding armies.
Of those with devices, only 59% say that they *always* turn off their devices prior to take-off and landing. A significant portion of travelers do not turn their devices off at all:
The study frames this as "accidental," but anecdotal evidence supports the opposite - many are in active rebellion against the perceived lameness of electronic device regulations. If a pilot can use an iPad, why can't the passengers?
It's also a bit suspect that an owner of noise-canceling headphones would accidentally leave them on - wouldn't it be on purpose? And who doesn't like to listen to music as a plane rockets into the air at hundreds of miles an hour?
A more appropriate follow-up question to "Have you ever accidentally left any of your portable electronic devices TURNED ON during a flight?" would be "Have you ever left any on ON PURPOSE?"
When instructed to turn off devices, some passengers do report that they turn the device to airplane mode.
Despite the fact that 94% of respondents found clear instructions regarding PEDs, there is clearly a disconnect between the traveling public and the government agencies responsible for regulating travel behaviors. While the flight staff unequivocally states that all devices must be turned off - not in airplane mode - the survey also found confusion in understanding the rules.
Given all of these stats, a slight majority is still not concerned with being able to use PEDs during all phases of flight - perhaps because many of travelers already are!
For travelers concerned about interference from electronic devices, the area of most concern is devices completely powered on during take-off and landing. Airplane mode is not as worrisome for most travelers, with in-flight usage being of least concern.
In mid-2012, the FAA announced a working group to address these electronic considerations, with results due very soon. The results of this particular consumer survey, while limited in sample size, provide a much-needed traveler perspective on this ongoing discussion.
NB: Plane image courtesy Shutterstock.