Cell Phones on Airliners … One Man’s Plan to Fight Back

By Robert Mark on August 8th, 2007

Now that American Airlines announced they’ll be testing an on-board Wi-Fi Internet service with AirCell beginning next year, can on-board cell phone usage be far behind? Imagine the fun as we all get to listen in on one more person who thinks they need to yell into their cell phone to be heard.

But for once, I’m not going to wait until airline travel becomes even more excruciating than it already is.

I’m taking matters into my own hands with a promise – no make that a guarantee – that anyone who flies next to me on an airliner should know about before they even think of calling the office to talk about some damn deal or ring their girlfriend about how way cool the concert was.

I’m calling my system iPod Payback,(patent pending of course). Consider this note advanced warning to all who may choose to challenge what little peace and quiet there is left aboard an airliner.

The Windup

My personal cell-phone defense mechanism demands only three major components … my iPod Shuffle attached to my big geeky BOSE headphones and me.

Here’s how it works.

First we need a victim, in this case me as a passenger in my favorite row 12 – not too much engine noise and less than 20 minutes to get off the airplane after landing.

Then we need a victimizer. That would be anyone crazy enough to start babbling on their cell phone while I’m close enough to hear.

The system is simple. They talk and I talk, sort of. First I pull my iPod and headphones from the bag.

Next, I carefully plant the headphones on my head in such a way that there is little or no chance I’ll be able to hear anything anyone says once I crank it up.

Now, with my neighbor carefully explaining the night before to everyone in the cabin, none of whom of course care, I push the button and my iPod comes to life. I carefully select a tune certain to demand high screechy notes from my voice … and I begin.

An Action-Packed Finale

Within seconds of cranking up the volume on some Rolling Stones classic, “I see the red door and I want it painted BLACK!” the anti-chaos begins. 

Nearby passengers are certain to tumble to the floor in pain as I sing in the key of M. Since I’ll have my BOSE tightly pressed to my ears, I will of course hear none of this, and will go on singing.


With dozens of other passengers crying in agony over my rendition of a Lennon/McCartney masterpiece, the noise should be sufficient to force any cell phone user to abandon their call over the rudeness of their cabin mates.

That’s when I get the thumbs-up signal from the lady in row 7 and turn off the iPod.

I repeat this process, as needed, until all local cellphone usage is terminated or a fellow passenger throws my iPod or someone’s cellphone at the cabin bulkhead. I will, of course, have also formed previous alliances with parents of small screaming children to assist me as needed to help rid the cabin of cell phone callers.

Note: These rules of engagement would be completely unnecessary aboard a business aircraft where people respect each other’s privacy.

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7 Responses to “Cell Phones on Airliners … One Man’s Plan to Fight Back”

  1. Mal Gormley Says:

    Cell phones have two functions: To call 911 in an emergency–or to call the pizza place on the way home from the beach (we do this a lot here in Maine).

    My wife runs the town’s public library. Apparently the classic Library “Shhhhh” doesn’t seem to apply to library visitors. I wonder why? They have to be physically assaulted to turn the damn things off.

    Cell phones have single-handedly (pardon the pun) destroyed any last vestige of civility in modern society. Now they want ’em on airplanes???? The TSA should confiscate ’em at the gate for safety’s sake.

    Thanks for revealing your (patent pending) iPod Payback, Rob. Sounds like a winner. Can we order them in the In-Flight Shopper catalog in the seatback?

  2. Matthew Justice Says:

    I like this idea, but I would never be brave enough to carry thru with it.

    I think that voice call should be blocked and users should be able to (maybe) send text messages.

  3. Bob Bleczinski Says:

    The intrusion on a plane will be intolerable. Two things I have thought of as an alternative to having a diva-moment are (1) I have a dog-barking sound on my PDA which I can pull up and trigger at max volume in concert with the cell-phone shouter, (repeatedly) or (2) simply hit the record button on my PDA, making it obvious if possible to the shouter, that they are being recorded. I expect in both cases I’ll get the shouter’s attention.

  4. Robert Mark Says:


    I am impressed with the level of creativity I’m seeing from Jetwhine readers. Your’s seems to reflect a superior level of devilishness.

    Dog barking is good, but the thought of how people might react if they believe they are being recorded simply boggles the mind.

    But what do we do if these blabby people think we’re from some celebrity channel?

    Won’t we make it worse? Then what do we do?

    C’mon Jetwhiners. We can figure out this next step to add to Bob’s plan, can’t we?

  5. Eric Says:

    Clever but sick. I love it.

    Airlines should be like restaurants. The better ones do not allow use of cellphones.


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    […] infringe on my personal space on an airplane – all 10 sq. ft. of it – another reason I’m so relentlessly opposed to any airline approving the use of cell phones on board an airplane. Maybe it’s the close quarters or simply the opportunity to sit back for an hour or two and […]

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    […] infringe on my personal space on an airplane – all 10 sq. ft. of it – another reason I’m so relentlessly opposed to any airline approving the use of cell phones on board an airplane. Maybe it’s the close quarters or simply the opportunity to sit back for an hour or two and […]

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