American Airlines, Delta, and Jet Blue are among the growing number of airlines that have barred passengers from bringing cellphones on their flights. The decision comes after weeks of widespread reports that a defect in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 causes the phone to catch fire and explode. Passengers are now required to check their phones before going through security on face losing their ticket, arrest, or cavity examination.
Frequent flyers have been critical of the prohibition, arguing that preventing people from taking their phones to the gate will make it difficult for passengers to receive or relay information about flight delay and will also force people to sit with their own thoughts for hours at a time.
“This is torture. I haven’t not checked my phone for more than a few minutes in years,” said frequent flyer and double-negative user Jonah Fernandez as he waited at Miami International Airport for his thrice delayed flight to New Jersey to attend his father’s third marriage. “I don’t know what to think about. I just keep worrying about everything I’m missing by not having my phone,” he added as he nervously slid his finger down the top of a copy of Wired Magazine as if refreshing the printed cover.
While the prohibition will apply to all phones, non-Galaxy Note 7 users, including iPhone customers, will be able to bring their phone onboard by purchasing TSA’s “pre-screen app” for $250.00. The application monitors the phone’s battery output during the flight and powers off the phone if the battery becomes too hot and also grants the National Security Administration unfettered access to the passenger’s phone, contacts, call history, and internet use.
As the hours ticked by as Mr. Fernandez waited for his flight to board, the 33-year-old information technologies specialist stared deeply at the muted television playing CNN on the airport’s wall while imagining with increasing detail and apprehension what the soon-to-be reunion between him and his father would be like. It had been 6 years since the two had seen each other, which as the extended period of time between visits suggests, did not go very well: “I’m here to support you on an important day in your life, something that I wish you had done for me when I graduated from college in 2007,” he imagined he would say to his father upon arrival, although he knew he wouldn’t.