After last week's New York Times column on the pointlessess of making fliers turns off gadgets during take-off and landing, angry technophiles have started a White House petition to get the rules changed. After two full days and a tweet from The New York Times's Nick Bilton's to his 88,879 followers, the petition only has 364 signatures.
When Bilton wrote his takedown last week, it wasn't all that convincing. In the days following his post, a few bloggers piped up to agree with Bilton, but even The Atlantic's own national correspondent and pilot, James Fallows, who admitted "the rule is pure theater," pointed out that Bilton doesn't really have a case. "[H]ere is the only, admittedly weak rationale behind the 'turn all equipment off' diktat," Fallows wrote. "If anything went wrong on a crowded airline flight, the flight crew would need everyone's full attention, now." And for that, he will keep his iPad off at the flight attendant's request.
Fallows isn't alone. A slew of commenters on Bilton's follow-up blog post note the inanity of the entire request. Some pointed out that interference can actually occur. Others suggested that a few minutes without iPad access is really a ridiculous thing to complain about. And as The Wire's Adam Clark Estes noted, one can never be too certain when an iPhone might explode.
Yet, a week later, the crusade lives on and doesn't really look like it's going anywhere. If the White House gets "enough support," it says someone on staff will look at the petition and send it to "policy experts." With less than 400 of the 25,000 signature goal, it doesn't look good for the Airplane Mode crusade. And even if it did get enough support, the TSA track record of responding to consumer complaints— even when they are legitimate and vocal — hasn't been so great. Take last year's travel freak out about body scanners: Even after months of talk, national attention and a study that moved Europe to ban the cancerous things, the TSA still mostly uses them.