Alec Baldwin was kicked off his American Airlines flight yesterday for playing an iPhone game, (or throwing a big baby temper tantrum, depending on who you ask). This had us wondering, which airlines are strictest about enforcing their dumb inflight electronics rules?
As more and more people carry enough electronics to create a feature-length Pixar film onto planes, the issue of shutting down gadgets during landing and take-off has reached critical mass. The thing is, there isn't really good reason to ban electronics at any point in flight, as explained (most recently) by the Times' Nick Bilton. They haven't been tied to a single crash, for example. And while FAA rules require you shut down your iPod and Kindle, you can still use an electric razor, in case you need to trim your sideburns during ascent.
Nerds have launched a petition drive to get the rules changed, but most of us have engaged in guerilla warfare against the pointless rules at some point—slyly removing the aisle-side earbud on our ipod as the flight attendant high-steps by; putting our kindle down on our crotch, cause who would want to look there? etc. Sometimes you win and sometimes, like Alec Baldwin, you lose in spectacular fashion.
Most of the major American airlines have had a high-profile incident of cell phone-related incidents recently. Last year, Transformers actor Josh Duhamel was booted from a US Airways flight for refusing to turn his phone off; Arianna Huffington was escorted off a United Airlines flight for clinging furiously to her famous purple blackberry.
But judging from an entirely-non-scientific survey of message boards and news articles, American Airlines—Baldwin's nemesis—is notorious among travelers for being sticklers about electronics. One poster on the FlyerTalk messageboard called it "militant!" Their flight attendants point out in inflight messages that if even one cell phone is on they can't pull back from the gate, in an effort to shame scofflaws and encourage snitches, and zoom in on offenders with some preternatural internal cell phone radar.
At the other end is Kazakhstan's super-chill Air Astana: They apparently don't give a shit. What about you? Have you succeeded in illicitly keeping your ipad on during takeoff, or been shamed, brutally, by an eagle-eyed flight attendent?