Stupid airplane tricks

Having just gotten back from a trip in which I took four plane flights in under a week, I thought I would briefly post links to two old reports underlying how much of the hassle travelers undergo these days is entirely pointless and doesn’t accomplish the stated reasons.

First, Nick Bilton of the New York Times has made it a private crusade to point out the absurdity of the rules requiring passengers to turn off electronics during takeoff and landing. Like many people, I probably assumed the rule was actually about getting passengers to pay attention during the most dangerous parts of any flight, but the Federal Aviation Administration admits that’s not true.

Obviously, Bilton says, plenty of people leave their electronics on, even if by mistake, and nothing happens. The Federal Aviation Administration admits it doesn’t really have solid evidence to back up the policy. Even scientific tests in laboratories find the radiation coming off consumer electronics is “completely minuscule and can’t do anything to interfere with a plane.”

So there you go. This rule is dumb. But at least the FAA is slowly creeping toward revising it.

I have no such optimism for the Transportation Security Administration revising its inane and largely pointless security rules, which The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg notes is little more than “security theater” that’s “designed to make travelers feel better and catch stupid terrorists.” (Some of the specific exploits Goldberg features there have doubtlessly been fixed, but anyone who has flown knows the bigger stupidity of the system remains.)