Turn your phone off when told to – or risk being kicked off your flight

Anyone that has flown knows that the cabin crew will make a big deal about having all passengers turn electronic devices off as soon as the cabin doors are closed. Of course, there are always a couple of people that need a little extra reminding. Then there are of course those passengers that need to make a call that is apparently so important, they’ll ignore all requests to turn their phone off.

A 20 year old man from Colorado fits that profile – and his phone call was so important, that it triggered a fight when he refused to turn his phone off. By the time the fight broke out, the plane had taken off from Charles De Gaulle airport, and four American security agents got involved.

With a disruptive passenger on board, the pilot took no risks, turned the plane around and landed back at the airport where the man was handed over to French police officers.

To make matters worse for this idiot passenger, United Airlines refused to fly him back home, and canceled his ticket. The flight ended up being delayed by almost two hours, causing a considerable inconvenience to everyone on board.


Plane dismantled in search of mobile phone

We all know we’re not supposed to turn on our mobile phones until our plane has reached the terminal. We´re told this again and again, and really folks, it´s for our own safety. Of course, some people think they’re special and do whatever the hell they want, like an unnamed but certainly unpopular and embarrassed passenger on a Jet2 flight to Newcastle.

When the flight stopped in Murcia, Spain, someone turned on their mobile. . .and promptly dropped it into an air vent.

Since the phone was on, the plane couldn´t take off because the mobile’s signal could interfere with the navigation systems. The passengers had to wait for three hours as technicians tore out the row of seats this idiot was sitting in, as well as the cockpit area. The mobile was found and the flight continued on its way after the passenger was forced to eat the phone and sing “If I only had a brain” in front of the entire plane.

OK, I made that last bit up, but it would be just, wouldn’t it?

(Oh, and this photo, while oddly appropriate, shows an entirely different hole on an entirely different flight. Poor sgoralnick was flying Delta and this hole blew cold air on her feet the entire time. Check out her photos here)

Mexican authorities to allow mobile phone calls on commerical flights

Good news! The Mexican FCC just canceled directive NOM-019SCT3-2001!

Sure, I’ll forgive you if you have no idea what this means (I didn’t either at first). The directive was a 2001 piece of law banning the use of mobile phones on commercial planes.

This means passengers will be legally permitted to yap away on their phones during “certain phases” of flight. The source article does not mention what those “certain phases” are, but it is probably just a way of saying you can use your phone after the take off and landing phase.

There is of course one small snag in this plan – no Mexican carriers actually offer inflight calling technology, and once you get above 10,000 feet, you won’t be in range of any cell towers. That said – it is probably just a matter of time till the airlines start seeing Peso bills, and install the equipment required to make calls. Other airlines that introduced inflight calling, did so with rates of about $4 per minute. You thought $12.95 for WiFi was too much? Try paying $20 for a call back home telling people what a great time you are having.

So far, US law still prohibits the use of mobile phones in flight, and if US Congressman Peter DeFazio has his way, that isn’t about to change any time soon. His ridiculously named ‘Hang-Up act” (Halting Airplane Noise to Give Us Peace) is trying to convince the FCC that removing the ban will kill air travel for everyone.

So dear readers, what do you think of inflight mobile phone calls?


(Via: Engadget)

Augmented reality: a traveler’s dream?

Gadling has previously investigated how mobile devices are changing the way we travel, whether it’s helping us navigate public transit, letting you make cheap phone calls abroad or showing us location-based maps of nearby restaurants, hotels and businesses. Now, an emerging mobile phone technology called augmented reality looks ready to bring this mobile experience to the “next level.”

It works like this: you start up an application on your phone using a built-in accelerometer, GPS and camera. As the application scans the world around you, it recognizes what you see, providing images, web links and information depending on where and what you’re looking at. Think of it almost like the real world was “clickable.” You could be walking down the street, pass by a restaurant, and have a link pop-up with a menu and weekly specials. Or in the case of augmented reality applications like acrossair on the iPhone (shown above) it can help you figure out the location of the nearest subway or metro stop. Other applications, like Wikitude and the Dutch service Layar let you browse directories of ATM’s, bars and hotels around you.

As with any cool new technology, there’s sometimes a catch. At this point, augmented reality apps like acrossair, Layar and Wikitude are only available to users abroad in Europe, although the companies are all promising a launch for U.S. users later this year. You’ll also need to have a supported phone – in this case either a device with Android or an iPhone 3GS to take advantage. Still, the coming of augmented reality offers a bright view of our travel future. Imagine taking a trip where we were free of our guidebooks, able to have information on transit, shopping, eating and sleeping at our fingertips when we wanted it and hidden from view when we didn’t. It’s a concept that is rapidly approaching reality, though still working out some kinks – don’t throw out that map just yet.

Stweet mashes up Twitter with Google Street View

It seems like we can’t get enough of Twitter lately. In fact, as the service continues to add new users, the number of applications that help you use it for travel only seems to grow. Recently we learned a quirky new tool called Stweet that links up the street level views found on Google Maps with the power of Twitter.

Although applications like Twittervision already show you a real time map of what and where people are tweeting, Stweet is slightly different. Instead of showing an anonymous map, Stweet pulls the approximate location of where a person submitted their message, attaching it to a street address and visualizing the location using Google’s nifty street view tool. The app can be customized to let you view specific cities like San Francisco or London.

How would someone use this for travel, you might be saying? One potential application might be mapping a city’s potential hangout spots. Guidebooks are great at telling you about good places to go six months ago…but they’re horrible keeping up with the day a visitor happens to be in town. Sure, that cafe in Paris sounded great in your Lonely Planet, but what about this August, when you’re actually around? Twitter is great at picking up trending topics and keywords – Stweet takes that idea to the next level. You can narrow down to specific cities and neighborhoods, seeing the areas that seem to be buzzing and the local topics that have people talking.

That said, an application like Stweet has the power to backfire horribly – the data isn’t necessarily reliable and you can’t necessarily confirm that a given tweeter shares your tastes. It also seems to be struggling with technical difficulties – as of the time of this writing the site seemed to be down. Still, as more and more phones share location data and mobile devices become more powerful, you can bet you’ll be seeing more of these types of services coming soon to a phone near you.

You can find Gadling on Twitter, as well as the most of the Gadling Team: Mike Barish, Kraig Becker, Catherine Bodry, Alison Brick, Justin Glow, Aaron Hotfelder, Tom Johansmeyer, Jeremy Kressmann, Heather Poole, Jamie Rhein, Annie Scott, Karen Walrond, Kent Wien, Brenda Yun.