Air Passenger Arrested For Not Turning Off Phone

PHOENIX (CBS/AP) – Police in El Paso, Texas arrested a Southwest Airlines passenger on a flight from Phoenix after he refused to turn off his cell phone.

Southwest Airlines spokeswoman Whitney Eichinger in Dallas told The Associated Press Tuesday the man turned his cell phone on as flight 1833 landed about 5:45 p.m. in El Paso on Monday.

Eichinger says when the man was asked to turn his phone off, he did not and when the plane pulled up to the gate, El Paso authorities met the aircraft.

El Paso International Airport spokesman Jeff Schultes tells the El Paso Times officials interviewed witnesses who were onboard the flight.

The man’s name and other details were not released.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


One Comment

  1. C Bauer says:

    The police, the flight crew and the passengers all should have flogged him for good measure.

    1. Brian says:

      No, he should have the right to habius corpus. We have a judicial system to work out these details.

      1. Harp says:

        you’re right we do a have a well oiled, efficient judicial system here. Should have given him a good flogging for good measure.

      2. lmb says:

        habius corpus is the wrong option you’ve got his rights mixed up.

    2. Michael Z says:

      Statistically speaking, one is more likely to die by virtue of:

      – an airborne fire hydrant (Oakland CA, 2007), 

      – a dropped refrigerator (Milwaukee WI, 2008), or

      – an overaggressive swimming pool vacuum (Edina MN, 2008)

      than by a commercial airline pilot confused by a wayward text message during takeoff or landing (total reported incidents since the beginning of time: ZERO).

      1. Toni says:

        Doesn’t matter, rules are rules. As a flight attendant, I don’t want to be giving evacuation commands over a bunch of people yakking on their phones. And the place where evacuations happen, without ANY notice? THE GROUND.

      2. SB says:

        @Toni and @Nonya and any other flight attendants who complain that the man should have followed your rules, this guy did what I have seen everyone do on Southwest flights once they touch ground for several years – everyone does it. This strikes me as a typical vengeance situation where a flight attendant exerted his/her authority when completely not necessary, probably because the guy didn’t kiss a$$ when yelled at. Flight attendants (and gate agents and ticket agents) can be power mongering a$$holes who take whatever frustrations they have in their personal lives out on the passengers because they know they have the law behind them and can claim unruliness or whatever. Little people exerting napoleon complexes is what I see whenever I fly. And I fly Southwest once a week. Flight attendants get all bossy and b*tchy and controlling all the time because they have the power to kick you off the plane or get you arrested, so you better do what they say (even if it has nothing to do with flight safety). No WAY should cops have been called and their time charged at the taxpayer’s expense. There has to be some accountability of the flight attendants when they get out of line, and this one was out of line.

      3. Ahmed al Benghazi says:

        @SB: Unless the cell phone user was a Muzzie. PROFILE HERE, PROFILE NOW.

      4. Michael Z. says:

        @Toni, fortunately you might not have to worry about that much longer: several major companies are “pilot” (no pun intended) testing programs designed to reduce employee air travel by up to 95% while maintaining or increasing revenues and productivity with innovative new methods of online collaboration and conferencing. You’ll either have to go for career retraining – or eventually pull rank just to crew chartered “Greyhounds with wings” to Las Vegas. Your business traveler is bailing.

      5. Scott Lurowist says:

        I was an avionics technician in the Air Force. I worked on the navigation systems.

        Safety is the utmost concern. You would have to test every cell phone in production to make sure that the signals they emit do not interfere with the radio navigation systems on the plane. Pilots must still navigate using the radio based VOR system. Landing in inclement weather requires the use of ILS, which is also radio based.

        Until air traffic control updates their systems to be able to safely separate planes flying direct routes, these older navigation systems must still be used.

        This has NOTHING to do with a “wayward text message”.

      6. Randy says:

        I’ve said all along that people who use cellphones should be horsewhipped for their own good. This just add fuel to my case.


      8. Rick G says:

        So what? There are lots of ways to die, and it really doesn’t matter if a person dies in a statistically insignificant way.

        Apparently, people who are much brighter than you and who have studied the math (instead of doing a copy/paste) say that they want cell phones off at certain times during the flight.

        As for your total reported incidents which you claim are zero, you don’t know what you are talking about. The reason for the policy is because there have been reported incidents in which the pilot believed cell phone use might have been creating interference. Since investigations indicate it is possible, people who are (once again) smarer than you have made the decision.

      9. Stop Spreading Lies says:

        @ Arrest the Kenyan Ursurper: I can’t believe Michele Obama said such a thing! I was about to thank you for opening my eyes, and then I decided to do A LITTLE FACT CHECKING, and it turns out SHE WAS ASKED if the media was intruding in her childrens’ lives, to which she responded the quote which you have GREATLY taken out of context. Now I have to wonder: what else have you and the right-wing media machine misrepresented? I suppose the Bush’s and the Clinton’s should be thanking the media for their cooperation in respecting their childrens’ right to privacy. Looks like you need a little deprogramming.

      10. september fool says:

        Reply to Toni. Yeah I know you don’t like to be responsible to passenger serfs once you’ve started bl*wing the navigator.

    3. Jimmy says:

      Man, first that singer dude got removed now this? I’m not flyin Southwest, sounds like commie airlines to me.

    4. rob says:

      I was sitting in first class on Sunday evening… we land and I immediately hear a cell phone start ringing… as soon as the plane stopped at the gate, a flight attendant opened one of the storage lockers right in front of me — pulled out her purse — and a cellphone that was on… She acted like it was no big deal.

  2. Joshua Kim says:

    Where is personal liberty and freedom in this? An aircraft that has touched down do not need to worry about navigational interference. This is going way beyond common sense.

    1. Nonya says:

      The article stated that he used his phone while the plane started landing, not while taxi-ing. Two different situations.

      1. Greg G Fidler says:

        READ! The PLANE had LANDED!

      2. nobama2012 says:

        Doesn’t say explicitly that the plane was on the ground when the request was make. And too, reporters do get details wrong – often.

        Why didn’t the jerk simply comply for a few more minutes? The air crew makes the rules.Passengers don’t get to vote. Take it up with the Customer Service Dept. to get it changed if you don’t like it.

    2. cydthesquid says:

      The point is, this man knew the rules and thought that he was above it. If he doesn’t like the rules, he can charter his own plane and talk to his hearts content. I’m so tired of people who think the rules don’t apply to them, they are too IMPORTANT. If the sign says turn off your phone, just do it. His call could have waited 5 more minutes until he was off of the plane. I’m glad they arrested him.

      1. Aaron Self says:

        You do know that cell phones don’t use the same frequency that airplanes use. This is intentional. So, actually, the only reason you can’t use your phone, is so you have to use the in plane phone. So tell me, why is it ok to use the phone in the plane, but not the phone in your pocket?

      2. JohnHW says:

        I am a pilot and my plane uses the SAME navigational aids as a civil airliner. I always keep my cell phone and bluetooth ON, not on plane mode. I have NEVER experienced any deviation in my navigation instruments during landings or takeoffs and my cell phone is only 2 to 3 feet away from the instrument and maybe six feet from the antennas. There has been many “studies” and none of them, since the early ’90s have shown any interferrence with navigation.

        The article stated the airliner HAD LANDED. I don’t know of any navigational aid that can be used ON THE GROUND. Looks to me like some flight attentant wanted to excerise control over a passenager where none should have been. A person on a cell phone after landing DOES NOT violate any FAA rule that I know of. Of course, Southwest might have such a rule, but that is NOT A LAW OR REGULATION that the police can get involved in. They have an FAA rule about interferring with a flight crew, but this would be a stretch. Of course, police have been known to stretch rules to meet a situation where they wanted to arrest a person.

      3. David Dean O'Keefe says:

        To John HW: if you had experienced electronic interference while on ILS you wouldn’t be posting anywhere

    3. Fire08 says:

      There may be issues folks don’t think about that are differnt than the popular notion of interference with insturments. There are two reasons to turn off a cell phone or other electonic device during takeoff and landing (the two most dangerous parts of any flight). The first reason is that by turning off the devices, the cabin crew can communicate immediately with most every passenger on the plane, if an emergency happens. Without the restriction, 80% of the passengers will have the headphones on, and communication with the cabin about how to proceed in an emergency would be nearly impossible. The communication in an emergency will need to occur, because few people pay attention to the briefing prior to taking off.

      The second reason for turning off cell phones is that when a plane is at altitude, it may hit 6 or 7 different towers at once, confusing and overloading the system for no apparent reason (which is why cell batteries drain so quickly when left on in flight).

      Folks don’t talk about those reasons much, but they are valid concerns.

    4. Steve says:

      Mark Bingham died Sept. 11, 2001, while saving countless lives. Just how many will never be known. 

      Flight 93 passengers learned from cell phone conversations that the World Trade Center and Pentagon had already been attacked. Bingham – along with Todd Beamer, Tom Burnett, and Jeremy Glick – formulated a game plan of sorts to overtake the hijackers, according to accounts from the phone calls.

      1. Fed UP says:

        Yes, if terrorists were taking over the plane, I’m sure no one would have a problem with using a cell phone. That doesn’t appear to be the case here, however.

      2. me says:

        And having turned told to turn off their cell phones, none of the passengers would have been able to turn them back on if the plane were hijacked. Is that what you think, moron?

      3. Fed UP says:

        So all the people who made calls on 9/11 already had their phones powered up, right?

      4. warbucks says:

        actually….they all use in-flight airplane phones, not cell phones…..

    5. Toni says:

      “Personal liberty and freedom?” How OLD are you? There are rules, including SAFETY rules, that occasionally impose on your “liberty and freedom.” (Flying is a privilege, not some constitutional right.) And this guy violated a rule and then refused to comply when he was called on it. It’s not all about navigational interference — although if you think an airplane on the ground isn’t at high risk of hitting something, you’re naive. I’m a flight attendant, and I personally don’t think cell phone use should be permitted except when the plane is ON the ground, parked, with the seatbelt sign OFF. Just where do you think an evacuation might have to occur — and without any warning? ON THE GROUND.

      1. YouFool says:

        Old enough to know better and care when jumped up waitresses act like gestapo.

      2. Tim Bates says:

        Stewardesses, are vindictive morons on power trips.

        Saw one on a SW flight get all bent out of shape on a guy for listening to his I-pod. she threatened to have a 14 year old kid flying on his own arrested for using an I pod. The kid was listening to music. Not loud, just minding his own business.

        Had I and three other passengers not schooled her that an I pod was not a cell phone. She would have left a little boy stranded.

        She was rude as hell to other customers refused to assis an elderly woman who fell as she was coming back from the bathroom. She barked orders like a gestapo agent. She refused the 14 year old anything to drink-(including water so he could take his medications). She was flat out awful. I felt like I was on a cattle car going to Sobibor Concentration camp again.

        that was 2006. Have not flown since then.

        I have little patience for ignorant people on power trips such as you toni.

      3. Yukiko says:

        Yes flying is a privilege and also a personal decision. Between the airlines, their fascist employees and TSA; I choose not to fly any longer. This decision has shown me the pleasantries of train and automobile travel. The train is a great way to see America’s backyard.

    6. Randy says:

      Do what the flight personnel say to do or get the F off the airplane. Airlines are not a democracy. You don’t have a vote. Don’t like it? Ride a friggin’ bus!

      1. JohnHW says:

        With comments like yours Randy, that is why I fly my own plane. I might be only going 1/3 the speed of these airliners, but I GO WHEN I WANT TO, directly TO THE TOWN I WANT, and I don’t have some want-to-be pilot who SHOULDN’T BE ALLOWED TO BE IN CHARGE OF A MORON, telling me that I shouldn’t be on the phone.

        I own a business and a couple of years ago, I had to be in New York for a meeting. The meeting was scheduled late in the day for the next morning. I didn’t have time to fly myself and went by red-eye. Half-way there, the plane had a problem and landed (never did find out what the problem was, so no complaints). The airline cancelled the flight and I had to book on another airline scheduled to leave at 6AM, which would get me into NY about an hour before the meeting. The plane was 45 minutes late leaving and 10 minutes late landing. So after landing, I pulled out my cell phone and made contribution to this meeting while waiting for the plane to get to the gate, fighting my way out of the plane and all the way into NYC by cab. If some F/A had told me to shut my phone off and wouldn’t listen to me as to why, I probably would have had the police called also. THE REASON I WAS ON THE PHONE WAS THE AIRLINE’S FAULT.

        Oh, yeah, it was the government who called the meeting.

      2. Yukiko says:

        I prefer the train. I meet a better class of people there. I don’t remember ever meeting anyone like you.

  3. NiteNurse says:

    We are such babies in America. Our cell phones have become our baby blankets that we can’t think of being without them. It was only a short time ago when none of us had a cell phone and you know what… life was just great!!! Now everything is tied to our cell phones and the companies are making us do everything with them that we can’t think of our lives without them!!! Trust me if you threw your cell phone away today your life would be just fine and be a couple hundred bucks or more richer. I’m glad the guy got arrested, rules are rules!

    1. voiceofreason says:

      Well, it actually wasn’t a ‘short time’ ago that we didn’t have cell phones, depending on how you define ‘short’ – some of us working folk have had the same cell phone number for 25 years. (back when phones were the size of bricks). I found the story a little ambiguous – did he turn it on after the wheels touched down (which I do all the time, after being unreachable for several hours after a flight) or were they still miles out and in the process of landing – the version of events which I read was not clear on the timing at all.

      1. voiceofsaness says:

        “…I do all the time, after being unreachable for several hours after a flight)”

        So, five to ten more minutes wouldn’t have killed you then, if you’ve already been unreachable for several hours?!

        I could care less about the debate regarding electronic interference.

        I could care less about the FAA regs stipulating what is or is not allowed regarding electronics.

        I could care less that cabin attendants, courtesy FAA FAR’s are as much Flight Crew Members and have as much authority as the PIC flying the aircraft and have the ability to ask authorities to detain anyone interfering with their duties.

        What I care about is the utter lack of respect the man showed when asked to turn off his damn phone and didn’t comply. I’d say Hell Yes! Throw his ass in jail… for being a prick!!!

        I wonder what the comments would be if the man lit up a cigarette?! And the rights of non-smokers etc.

        Respect the Marlboro Man and his sidekick Joe Camel!…

      2. the truth says:

        who cares if the wheels touched ground. Taxi- ing and parking a plane is much more dangerous than when the plane is airborne.

    2. flashman1854 says:

      Agree 100%.

      People, with their computers, cell phones, smart phones, ipads, i this and i that, are talking more and communicating less.

      And a reply to the “licensed pilot”: whether a cell phone interferes with any avionics system (or other aircraft system) or not is beside the point. Cell phones CAN be used to activate explosives or remote controlled missiles, An aircraft on an approach is vulnerable to short range missiles.

    3. houston says:

      Regardless of how you feel about the people around you talking, whether that be on a cell phone, face to face, or into a cup on a string, they have a right to keep on talking. They can even talk about you, and say mean things, and all sorts of stuff that you might not like. Its right there at the top of the list: freedom of speech.

      If he broke a law with his speech, that would be another story, but it wasn’t mentioned in the article. It seems like the only law he broke was the federal law requiring compliance with a flight crew member. I have always been a little uncomfortable with the federal government requiring compliance from one private citizen to another private citizen’s demands. Seems a little not-too-well-thought-out. Maybe next week someone will get arrested for talking on a cell phone in a movie theater. That’s annoying and against the rules too.

      1. JMorcan says:

        Why would you ever think a private airline has to allow you freedom of speech? If they tell you to shut up while you’re on their property, you damn well better do it.

      2. Brian says:

        I would agree with you JMorcan except for the fact that Southwest is a publicly traded company. If it was private then it is the owners right, but not with a publicly traded corp.

      3. nobodyisabovethelaw says:

        “Publicly traded” has absolutely nothing to do with this. Publicly traded companies are still the privately owned property of the shareholders.
        Regardless, only GOVERNMENT entities are required to allow free speech. A company, publicly traded or not, has the right to regulate all conduct in and on its property. If you don’t wish to comply, they can compel you to leave. You are absolutely free to stay the hell off their property if you don’t like their rules.
        But a Federal law requires you to keep your phone off until the crew tells you that you may turn it on. So, what part of the constitution makes you above that law?

      4. garryj says:

        Don’t be absurd, Brian. A publicly traded company has the right to set its own rules and codes of conduct. It is only public as far as being able to own its stock. You can be arrested for trespassing if Walmart feels your conduct is not appropriate in their stores. Even public facilities owned by the public such as libraries, schools, court houses, parks, etc can set their own rules and you are not free to do anything you want.

      5. Arcbc30 says:

        Private companies can make any rule they want- but you dont get arrested for breaking a companies rule (unless you also break the law in the process). With every other company in the country ( to my knowledge) except airlines- their rules are not considered laws. But because of the federal laws requiring your compliance with airline staff, any rule they set is considered law. When you step onto a plane you give up all rights you have, all of them. Those are the rules, that’s what you trade for the opportunity to fly. I don’t like it that’s why I fly as little as possible.

  4. Bob Jones says:

    I am a licensed pilot and in GA aircraft I never turn off my phone neither does any other private pilot I know. The reason they want you off your phone is simple, so you are paying attention in case something happens! People are addicted to their damn phones, sitting on a plane not having to listen to some moron blab away on their phone is bliss!

    1. John Van Stry says:

      There is a world of difference between your GA aircraft flying on VFR rules and a jet aircraft carrying hundreds of people flying in the weather on IFR rules. If you were having to fly an instrument approach in heavy weather would you still have your cellphone on? Especially when your cellphone’s transmitter is more powerful that the signals your ILS system is receiving from the ground? Aren’t you at all worried that the cheap cellphone may not be exactly of frequency and might be interfering with the signals your life now depends on?

      1. tomhoser says:

        There is the crux. Most people erroneously assume a good working cell phone and a good working, properly shielded avionics package. The rule was written to cover all contingencies.

    2. Mitch Pawl says:

      I have been a 1K on United for the past 4 years. I can count on one hand the amount of times that I have turned off my cell phone.

      The aircraft that I have been on have never crashed, wobbled or slammed on the ground because of my mobile phone being on.

      I have friends that are pilots for large corporations that fly Gulfstreams, Bombardier, King Air’s and Citations, they all leave their phones on.

      Now United has just gave IPad’s with 3G service on them. Does these devices use AT&T’s cellular network???

      This is an over hyped.

    3. Tim says:

      You have just one phone on. Ever think of 100-200 phones and other wireless devices spread out through and aircraft maybe next to a wiring bundle or fly by wire control that is not completly shielded?

  5. Joe Arciniega says:

    Cell phones pose absolutely no risk to airlines. The Economist wrote an article about this several years ago. For years the airlines have been lying to people and the sheeple who are too stupid to question anything just blindly follow along.

    1. voiceofreason says:

      Thanks for the link to the Economist article – I’d forgotten about this from several years ago.

  6. BTPost says:

    Joey, You need to research the technology, A LOT MORE, because you are just WRONG. There have been cases where this HAS been demonstrated, and has been corrected, in the technology, and in the literature. Just because you are a Licensed Pilot does NOT mean you know squat about the technology that you use, and your General Aviation Technology is NOTHING like the technology used in Commercial Aviation, and anyone who suggests such a thing is IGNORANT of the FACTS.

    1. ertyul says:

      remember – you don’t know WHAT “Van Stry” is – just what he SAYS he is, and he sounds like an Enquirer-reading conspiracy theorist!

  7. Frequent Flyer says:

    This is the second action in less than a week that is pushing me more towards flying SWA. The other was when Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day was kicked off of a flight for his sagging pants. I don’t know whether a cell phone can have an effect on a planes flight computers and I really don’t care. When you get on a plane, a private business, you agree to follow their rules – don’t like it, don’t fly.
    Way too many people in this country don’t follow rules because they feel they are special, or different, or just too damn good. It has caused a slow, but nonetheless definitive degradation of civility throughout our culture.
    I for one am glad to see rule breakers being held accountable. Good job SWA!

    1. Brian says:

      Southwest isn’t a private business, it is a publicly traded company. I agree with your comment, but once a company goes public, then the rules change and there are rules in place for those businesses to follow.

      1. nobodyisabovethelaw says:

        You should finish High School Civics before you make such a ridiculous statement. A Publicly traded company is not a government entity, and is therefore not required to allow free speech. Only a government is prohibited from restricting speech. A publicly traded company is still the private property of its shareholders.

      2. davejs says:

        Yes, rules change for a “publicly traded company”. They need to file regular reports with the SEC (typically quarterly/annual); they can’t make certain statements regarding the status of their company; officers of the company cannot buy/sell stock in the company during certain periods (typically a few weeks leading up to a quarter-end and after a quarter-end. They are however still allowed to have rules/policies that they can impose on customers/employees as long as those rules/policies don’t conflict with existing laws (for example, they cannot have a rule in place that says they will not accommodate people of a certain gender/race).

        If I’m wrong, please point me to what rule exists that says a public company must allow customers to use a cell phone as they please.

      3. Melissa says:

        davejs makes a good rhetorical argument against Brian…However, he failed to note that the airlines have the force of law to enforce their company policies. Turning on the cell phone during flight is not illegal. Interfering or obstructing flight crew is a federal crime. That’s how any whim of the stews becomes a federal charge in theory.

    2. Paisley says:


      1. Tim says:

        This is not company policy. It is federal law! Flight crews and flight attendents get upset because they can be personally fined by the FAA and it has happened. So how would you like to be at your job where and unknown government agent can step in at any time and personally fine your for something that your customer is not complying with!

  8. Is it Safe or not says:

    Great. Not enough details to make this byline into a story. If this guy was a real live terrorist, we wouldn’t know anything except the plane went down…

  9. charlie puckey says:

    cell phones do not interfere with navigational equipement, or any other equipment on the aircraft. at altitude the cell phone carriers cannot moniter the call and thus cannot bill the customer. check it out.

    1. Mark says:

      So a cell phone carrier can connect the call, but they can’t figure out a way to bill the customer? Is that really what you’re suggesting? Yeah I’ll get right on researching that one.

  10. Massimo Deportado says:

    Each passenger should have been able to kick the guy in the nuts while unloading.

    Libs don’t like rules. TS.

    Adios, MF’er.

  11. komatose says:

    Wow. Arrested… ARRESTED!! Over a cell phone!! This country is going to hell in a hand basket so fast, don’t blink or you may miss it!

    Obey your governments or you will wind up with the same FATE. Absolute SHAME. The founding fathers are rolling in their graves. RIP.

  12. ap says:

    Didn’t people use cell phones on 9-11 maybe that’s what brought the planes down and guided them with military precision?

  13. bobsmith says:

    Good, stupid @@s. When they tell you to turn off your phone, turn it off or face the consequences. If you don’t like it, take a bus. The airlines are not government owned. They are a private enterprise. This fool must be in a union or work for the government. Now your a@@ is permanently on a watch list. Ha ha ha. fool.

  14. Josh Cotton says:

    Some airlines let you turn on your cell phones once you land and taxi into your gate. So not sure how clear cut the rules are BUT if the flight attendants instruct you to do so, it’s not that big of a deal is it?

    Wow, some people just make mountains out of mole hills.

  15. Marie says:

    I am always quick to move my cell phone to the off position when boarding an aircraft. I also make sure to remind those traveling with me do the same.. My husband always chuckles at me, he (being a long time aircraft mechanic with Delta) tells me that it is BS, it poses no threat what so ever. My personal opinion is that they reported him for not complying to their request in general (which is standard protocol for them), and decided to report it. Our flight attendants are the first line of safety when it comes to passenger safety and terrorism, and I think it would be easy to get overly wrapped up!

  16. sara says:

    If cell phones can actually interfere with the flight equipment, then I say that ALL cell phones, iphones, blackberries, laptops — all electronics should be BANNED and ALL confiscated at the airport — HELL, the way they screen everyone, looking for box cutters in their underwear — but they let people board with electronics that could cause the aircraft to crash !!!???

  17. J.V. says:

    Another jerk who thinks he is “special” because he has a cell phone . .. hopefully, Bubba, his cell mate will show him how special he really is.

    1. DonW says:

      @J.V. In this day and age, anyone with the wherewithal to fly that does not own a cell phone would be the”special” one.

  18. Michael Hunt says:

    Time for tazing and beating.

  19. AFITgrad86 says:

    I’m a serious frequent flyer and a former Air Force avionics technician / Maintenance Officer. IMHO emitted RF energy from a cellphone could interfere with the operation of various systems but the odds of that happening are pretty remote. But it is a theoretical probability.

    The bigger issue with regard to this story and the Greenday musician is they did not comply with the instructions of the flight crew. If the flight attendant give you a directive and you willfully disregard it then you are committing a federal offense and are subject to arrest. So whether it’s turn off your cellphone, return your seat to the full upright position, or sit down and shut up the law is behind the flight attendant / aircrew. Defy their instructions at your own peril.

    1. DonW says:

      I@AFITgrad86 I agree 100% The guy was a jerk.

  20. Jay Twila says:

    The suspect if found guilty should be subject to capital punishment. After all, he endangered the lives of many. There can be no leniency for such a non-compliant and self-centered person. It’s time to get tough on crime America. It’s also time we learn to lighten up!

  21. John says:

    Every flight I’ve been on for the past 7 years has always announced at wheels down you can turn on your cell phone. Am I missing something?

  22. Darrel says:

    Good! Now release his name, the company he works for, and his cell phone number.

    He needs to learn he is subject to the same rules as the rest of us, and NO, he is NOT the exception.

  23. Lenny says:

    Why did El Paso cops get involved? I thought this was a Federal offense and the feds will sue a state if they get involved in arresting illegal aliens because that is the job of ICE. El Paso should not be doing the feds jobs unless they do all the feds jobs. Cant pick and choose.

  24. oldguy says:

    Can you rig an explosive device in the cargo hold to detonate by a cell phone?

  25. compliant one says:

    So we don’t need to obey FAA rules if we think they’re unreasonable? I didn’t realize I was a pus**y for putting my tray table in the upright position.

  26. david Xeriatis says:

    listen up folks ………………. the airlines are now equipping their aircraft to enable internet signals. This is a profit move, and they are not careing a whit about ‘interferrence’, by internet signals FOLLOW THE MONEY folks. If they could figure out how to make $$$$ by allowing you to use your cell phones, they would allow it in a second!

  27. SimpleLogic says:

    Whether the cell phones interfere with instrumentation or not is irrelevant. He obviously broke the law … stop second-guessing and just simply wait to use the phone LIKE EVERYONE ELSE. How hard is that ?

  28. JJ says:

    It’s an FCC regulation, not an FAA regulation. It has nothing to do with flight instrumentation, but with the speed and range at which cell towers are designed to switch calls from cell to cell. That said, the captain has final authority over when cell phones can begin to be used once on the ground.

  29. Ben says:

    They should have shot the passenger in his head with a bazooka. That would have been funny.

    1. Mr. Truth says:

      I lol’d.

  30. You Are Mindless Idiots says:

    Those of you who support this guy being arrested are mindless idiots. You deserve the society you are creating.

  31. FN Cee says:

    Puhleeze … boyz and girlz … consider that you can be prohibited from doing all kinds of things while in or on many public places … smoking comes to mind … and that if the owner of where you find yourself … a bar, a restaurant or a plane wants to prohibit you from using any particular thing … the owner needs no reason to prohibit that use … one of the busiest restaurants in our town outlaws cell phones … so, people just use a different restaurant or shut of the phones … the plane thingy just adds another wrinkle owing to whatever law is involved. Like one comment said, if you don’t like the rules, get your own plane.

  32. conformer says:

    Both the FCC *and* the FAA ban the use of wireless devices on planes. This has nothing to do with Southwest. If you think these are unnecessary govt regulations, then elect candidates who will get rid of unnecessary govt intervention. We might even be able to travel with a tube of toothpaste.

  33. NowYouKnow says:

    Southwest is giving notice: they are not taking guff off of “Special People”. They can send you to the hassle of your life.

  34. Sven says:

    Oh jeez, Oly I don’t know what da heck. I ne’er turned off my car phone on da plane. I haven’t crashed da plane yet. Ya s’pose I am gonna get arrested by one a dem dere cops?

  35. saduslover says:

    The irony in this story is that there is absolutely no evidence that cell phones, laptops, etc. can cause any intereference or problems with instrumentation on an aircraft! NONE! When they ask you to turn off cell phones there is no reason related to safety to justify the request.

  36. Mr. Truth says:

    Just do what the flight crew asks. Is that so hard? Srsly?

  37. Jay says:

    Is it so f’ing hard to follow the rules?! Geez. If they say turn off the phone, then turn off the damn phone!! Otherwise, don’t fly! IDIOT!

  38. Brian says:

    people should have enough respect for the airline and flight crew to follow their directions without making a hissy fit. Its time people wake up to the fact they are mere peasants for the most part and start being respectful of others.

  39. TXTRUTH says:

    Break the law, go to jail. Very simple.

  40. tonyl says:

    Is this a rule of the airline or is it a law passed by congress? not to use the phone unless permitted to do so by the crew of an airline? This could be challenged in the courts. It’s vague.

  41. Michael Z. says:

    1. A society is in decline when its laws no longer make sense;
    2. The FAA rule banning cell phones was actually passed in 1960 (under President Eisenhower) and had been intended to prevent bystanders from interrupting the walkie-talkie communications between pilots and control towers used in those days;
    3. Statistically speaking, one is more likely to die by virtue of an airborne fire hydrant (Oakland CA, 2007), a dropped refrigerator (Milwaukee WI, 2008), or an overaggressive swimming pool vacuum (Edina MN, 2008) than by a commercial airline pilot confused by a wayward text message during takeoff or landing (total reported incidents since the beginning of time: zero).
    4. Commercial air travel could be risk-free if it were eliminated altogether. (Of course,we’d probably have to outlaw jogging on a beach as well, given the SC man who was mowed down by a private Cessna 152 in 2010 while running along a deserted Hilton Head beachfront property).
    5. Ultimately, the industry will either fix itself or die. In 2011, I’ve eliminated 95% of the 160 nights a year I used to spend away from home (on business) by switching to web conferencing, by spending more time *doing* the work instead of *traveling* to it, by being more refreshed every day, and as a result by delivering better bottom-line results to my customers.
    6. Family time, happiness and income are all up – with the only downside being that the next time I need a colonoscopy or prostate exam, I’ll probably have to go to the doctor instead.

    1. hmmmm says:

      There were cell phones in 1960?

      1. Michael Z. says:

        My point exactly. There were no cell phones – only short-range, hobby-grade walkie-talkie’s. The rule was promulgated for a different purpose, different technology, and different time.

  42. mtaylor90 says:

    If they were coming in for a landing, or had just touched down, how would the stewardesses even know? They are supposed to be strapped in, their tray tables closed, and their chairs in the upright position like everyone else. Not justifying the man’s actions, but if the wheels were on the ground, then no harm, no foul. Needs clarification.

  43. SandyLester says:

    Studies have been conducted about cell phone use and interference with the air craft – zip zero nada nothing – no effect what so ever.

  44. David Heath says:

    It’s great that airlines are standing up to protect their crew and passengers’ safety.

  45. HondoXP says:

    My buisness phone makes noises through my PC speakers and car radio everytime, right before it starts ringing. Sounds like interfearance to me. I think that phone is on sprint. My personel phones are with at&t and don’t make those noises. Somes times it makes the noises and the phone dosn’t ring. What ever all that static is, Im very happy to turn off my buisness phone 🙂

  46. BoomerTX says:

    Yes, the charge should be 112 cases of attempted murder!… /S

  47. Michaela Deets says:

    The crew of the plane could not have known the passenger was turning on his phone while they were landing. The crew would have been sitting down at either end of the seating areas.

  48. Allen Ross says:

    You are on an airplane. The pilot is in charge. Obey the rules or drive.

  49. Annonymous says:

    It is legal to use cell phone after landing during taxi to gate. The Southwest Airline aircraft fleet is the newest of all major airlines – with all the latest nex-gen technology. I have heard that stray signals recieved by engine fuel controls have caused engine fuel shut-off and subsequent unintended engine shutdown. I just read the article from the Daily Mirror and recommend it to all. Turning off any device that transmitts a signal during airborne phase of flight is a reasonable rule to have and follow. Devices that do not transmit signals are not a threat eg. watch battery, pace maker, signal recievers (radios) etc. I don’t see that this guy can be prosecuted for the cell phone use since it is legal but maybe for not following the flight crew instruction which was errant. My guess is he sues and airline settles. A Southwest pilot.

  50. Crystal in CA says:

    I am sick and tired of rude passengers who blab on their cell phones as if we all want to hear what they have to say. If you are so important that you need to have constant access on your cell phone, then you are important enough to be flying on a private plane.

    Have you listened to all the “important” conversations in airplanes upon landing? “Hi, we landed. Pick me up outside baggage pick up.” These conversations are loud enough for just about anyone to hear. Give us a break folks, wait till you are on the jetway to make your oh so important calls.

    The loud, rude behavior of passengers using cell phones is just one more thorn in the side of air travelers who are already subjected to bothersome treatment by TSA and forced by the airlines for the audacity of bringing luggage when travelling.

  51. Never turn it off says:

    If cell phones really did this why would we be allowed to use them at the airport near planes that take off and land? The rule is garbage. How many grannies accidentally leave it on in their purses the whole flight unintentionally? Wouldn’t the FAA disallow them completely if it really risked a full fledge CRASH? Come on people, think.

  52. Das Boot says:

    Thanks to the NTSB and Homeland Security I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever fly on any airline again. I will drive, ride, run, walk, or bus, train or just plain hitch hike to my destination. I already have gotten used to not flying it’s been over 5 years since I have last caught a plane. I have had to plan further ahead many times but I have been able to forgo planes to my destinations many of them having me travel coast to coast. F _ _ _ the airlines and every conglomerate that includes their service or caters to their existence. HA

  53. Mike Turner says:

    Very simple… Airlines state you can’t use cell phones on airplanes… whether it be for profit or safety is not relevant. You don’t like the rules don’t use their service. Guy was an idiot and deserved to be arrested.

  54. Tom says:

    Southwest doesn’t have “in plane phones’ ….they were removed because no one used them. The point here is that if you’re asked to turn off your phone…YOU TURN OFF YOUR PHONE!!!! PERIOD!!! If you can’t follow simple instructions then you get arrested. GOOD…Hope he goes to jail!!

  55. Hugh Dalton says:

    The day that they legalize cell phones on commercial flights will be the last time I fly. People are rude enough without the things. I don’t care if it interferes with the plane; your rights end when you infringe on my rights. Keep the “cone of silence” on airplanes!

  56. bilbo says:

    This article is confusing. SW lets you use your phone once the wheels hit. This article makes it sound like the plane had landed but it must have still been in the air on approach.

  57. Jean Ader says:

    Another misleading headline. He was not simply arrested for having his phone on. He was asked to turn it off, and he refused. That’s a different story.

  58. Cogito says:

    It appears government at all levels is turning to Vladimir Lenin for direction in more and more matters. Lenin said, “It is true that liberty is precious; so precious that it must be carefully rationed.”

  59. Randall Stephens says:

    I have overheard interference from my own cell phone over the headset while taxiing. They also interfere with tower communications between pilot and controller.

    When they say turn it off, just turn the damn thing off.

  60. myad9446 says:

    Clearly just another run-of-the-mill “I’m the center of the universe” a-hole.

  61. Andy says:

    A lot of nutty people commenting here. If mobile phones were truly a risk then airlines would do more than ask people to please turn them off. They’d confiscate everyone’s phones before the flight to ensure they were shut off. Or they would insulate the cabin so that cell phone frequencies couldn’t interfere with equipment throughout the plane.

    If electronics in general were a problem then they wouldn’t allow them to be turned on once planes have taken off either.

    It isn’t an issue other than a possible distraction so that the flight attendants can give their safety demonstration that I’ve watched for the thousandth time. I don’t need to watch the demonstration and regardless of whether I’m using a phone, listening to an mp3 player, or reading a book, they can’t force me to pay attention. I think I can figure out if there’s an emergency occurring and know when to put my phone or mp3 player down. The rules are outdated and useless and need to be changed. That some of you would actually be praising them for arresting this poor guy is laughable. I LOL’ed when I read the comment where some person accused him of attempted murder of 112 people. Get a clue, people.

    By the way, I’m not a liberal so stop using that as an excuse for when someone disagrees with you.

  62. Gene Gant says:

    Its sad we are in such a power hungry, legalistic society, The Beatles old song ”
    Back In The USSR is fitting, Southwest Airlines, You Suck!

  63. Joe says:

    when flying general aviation i never turn my phone off that is until it starts making a buzzing noise in my headset and interfering with my radio communication as soon as i turn the phone off this goes away thats interference right there as well as all electronics emit electromagnetic fields which can disrupt navigational equipment and also its possible for a cell phone to be at the proper frequency that does interrupt nav equipment the FAA made the rule to ban cell phones as an extra measure of saftey not for airlines to somehow profit
    -Commercial multi engine with instrument rating

  64. Frak Boreman says:

    Cell phones emit traceable frequencies that can be used as a targeting source. Low probability but disastrous potential.

    The plane phone is for convenience. If you have to make a call use the one provided. Thus, any targeting can be discriminated and eliminated.

    Understanding goes a long way towards easing compliance.

  65. tim says:

    My question is: If this phone was in “airplane mode” and he was say watching a movie, or listening to music is that breaking the rules? If a cell device is properly adjusted during flight, one can still play games, listen to music, or watch a movie with the interference aspects reduced what is the problem?

  66. Bill V says:

    If cell phones posed a real danger, they would be prohibited to brought on board.
    I always turn on my cell phone after we touch down.
    This is ludicrous

  67. Bill V says:

    If cell phones posed a real danger, they would be prohibited to brought on board.
    I always turn on my cell phone after we touch down.
    This is ludicrous

  68. Craig says:

    It doesn’t say he was using his phone. He may have had it on but on Airplane Mode like I always do.

  69. Hank Warren says:

    Useless security arresting cell phone users and molesting kids, yet another violation of our rights. Add it to the list of gov’t violations of our rights:
    They violate the 1st Amendment by placing protesters in cages, banning books like “America Deceived II” and censoring the internet.
    They violate the 2nd Amendment by confiscating guns.
    They violate the 4th and 5th Amendment by molesting airline passengers.
    They violate the entire Constitution by starting undeclared wars for foreign countries.
    Impeach Obama, vote for Ron Paul.
    (Last link of Banned Book):

  70. Louis Rose says:

    I have found it easier just not to fly, anymore, at all. It really is possible if you resolve that you will not travel except by car. Most business can be accomplished by video teleconference or by the employment of a agent at the distant location. When enough of the airlines go bankrupt, they will relax the rules.

  71. Fed UP says:

    Whether it has an effect on the plane or not, turn off your cell phone if asked to do so by the crew. If he truly felt the need to get a message to someone, he could’ve texted it and no one would’ve known. This about being an a@##$. He’s like the people who pull out their phone on during movies and the theater. They think that if all they’re doing is checking their messages or sending a text, they aren’t disturbing anyone. Wrong! That light shines like a beacon in a dark theater. Or maybe he’s like the guy in Wal-Mart who’s so busy talking to his bluetooth that he can’t drive his cart without knocking over displays. If you’re so freakin’ important that you can’t hang up your phone, you should be on your private jet where you can do whatever you want.

  72. paul ford says:

    who wants to listen to some stupid liberal blabbing lies and violence?

  73. Mr Robert S says:

    I have seen this behavior many times. Some little 20 year old turns on the cell phone and starts texting as the aircraft begins the final approach. I don’t know if it is potentially harmful or not, but the airlines direct passengers to keep wireless devices off or in airplane mode while the aircraft in not on the ground. In one recent case, I believe the little boy was texting others on the same aircraft. It is sad that the younger generation has no interpersonal skills, no ability to differentiate between right and wrong, and are so insecure that they have to stay in constant contact with an idiot peers.

  74. salbug00 says:

    Good! I am so tired of people on Southwest who do anything they want with no regard for people around them. I don’t want to hear other people’s conversations. I wish the airline would just confiscate everyone’s phones while they are boarding; they can then pick them up when deplaning. I know this won’t be a popular post, but people should be able to quit their phone addictions for a couple of hours.

  75. Hub says:

    I think they should arrest 🙂 the clowns who crowd around the gate when trying to board, making it difficult for those of us who know how to wait our turn. What is the matter with these people? Didn’t their mothers teach them any manners? Last time I traveled, we all took off and landed at the same time. The herd needs to chill !

  76. Mannie says:

    Buut Zee ruuuules ist ze ruuules. He should be sent to zee Russssian FrRont1

  77. theoneandonlyjonasv says:

    Way to stick it to the criminal aspects of our society.

  78. Mikee says:

    Turn the effin phone off and leave it off until you’re off the plane you self centered, self important, rude, obnoxious, blowhard, ‘nothing important to say anyway’ morons.

  79. olliehop says:

    Before we start talking about vengful flight attendents let me tell you about a Southwest Airline FA.

    After repeating the standard ‘You are in the exit row’ speech where they have to get a verbal confirmation ‘Yes’ from each person in the exit row one of the passengers didn’t respond. When asked the person thought they were supposed to turn off their black berry. The attendent asked if they had even been listening. Since they had not the FA repeated the standard ‘You are in the exit row’ and, get this, the passenger ROLLED THEIR EYES. I couldn’t believe it. The FA stayed totally cool, I don’t know that I would have. I had no confidence that the passenger would have been any help in an emergency.

    All these people who think is is okay to break the rules will be the first to get ‘lawyered up’ if something goes wrong and they are hurt, discomforted or disenfranchised.

  80. me says:

    Another idiot who thinks he can’t live without a cell phone for a few hours.

  81. sean patriot says:


  82. Tim Bates says:

    Stewardesses are power hungry petty tyrants more interested in sticking it to you than actually serving you. They are servants. Not police.

    Now go get me my peanuts, and my soda MORON

    1. LMAO says:

      Yeah, but you’ll be the first one blubbering like a baby when there’s an emergency and they have to slap you to get you to go down that exit slide.

  83. bumblefoot2004 says:

    I’m trying to think of a dumber reason for getting arrested…

  84. sean says:

    Are cell phones and electronics truly dangerous? If so – why are they allowed on flights to begin with? I can’t take a 3.1oz tube of toothpaste on a flight but I can take a cell phone, laptop, Kindle, Gameboy, etc. and leave them all ON in my bag and potentially crash a jet? Are you kidding me???

    If these items are truly a potential threat – why wouldn’t a group of terrorists just show up armed with cell phones and other electronics – happily pass through security – careful to throw away their water bottles and nail clippers – and then board the same plane and leave all the electronics turned on???

    Seriously… if a cell phone being active during a landing is dangerous then people shouldn’t be allowed to carry them on. Politely asking people to turn them off isn’t a deterent if someone simply ignores the request or if they accidentally leave the item on.

  85. E says:

    Interesting. Exactly what law was broken that would warrant an arrest? At most the airline should ban him from traveling with them. Police state?

  86. GVT says:

    Well, I just don’t feel like listening to a full plane load of idiots all on the phone.

  87. september fool says:

    It’s still good for triggering b*mbs. Have a Happy September Fools Day!

  88. HaroldJohanson says:

    I’m just tired of these self-important people. Just once, I would like to be on a flight where nobody jumps up to grab their stuff out of the overhead before the plane even gets to the gate, or jumps on the phone to tell someone they just landed. On my last flight, the guy next to me wouldn’t power down his laptop before takeoff, so I told him if he caused any trouble I would break it over his head. He was good as gold for the entire trip.

  89. StopWhiningAlready says:

    Let’s be honest here. IF Cell phones truly represented any danger at all, they wouldn’t be allowed on the plane to begin with. End of story.

    1. Harry says:

      GREAT point. We can’t even get on a plan without taking our shoes off at security first. We can’t bring a finger nail file. If cell phones were a real danger, they’d be banned.

  90. Biff says:

    Follow the carrier’s rules or fly elsewhere. Simple.

  91. bartemm says:

    You people think this is funny. My husband designs air traffic control systems and on approach, a signal as small as a cell phone can disrupt the now 100% computer/gps-based systems. He was told to turn it off he should have turned it off. People’s individual rights and comfort over the lives of the other 200 passengers.

  92. JP says:

    I’m just confused why the guy was arrested? What law had he broken? Airplane rules are not laws. Seems way over kill. Slap him with a fine…but arresting for using his cell phone after they landed…I’m sorry, that’s just ridiculous.

  93. Mr. Johnson B. Small says:

    I hope he likes prison food and showering with other men. Haw haw haw…

  94. JohnHW says:

    The “law” he broke is called “interference with the flight crew.” It is a catch-all that I believe should be declared unconstitutional because it is too broad.

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