I realize that there isn't a whole lot of overlap between common sense and air travel these days, but can we please stop pretending that a Kindle is an electronic device that has to be turned off during take off and landing?
I flew a lot this summer, almost 30,000 miles, and it always annoyed me that they made me turn my Kindle off, especially considering:
* It only draws power when you turn the page.
* It uses hardly any power at all when you do turn a page.
* It's simple to turn the wireless off.
On an American Airlines flight, I had the most power-mad flight attendant I've ever experienced in my life. She was counting bags as people came into the plane, and actually made a guy put his headphones into his carry on -- knowing that he'd take them right out the instant he got to his seat -- because she said they made him go over the "two bag" limit to three. Unsurprisingly, this idiot didn't know what a Kindle was, and didn't understand that, when it is turned off, it leaves an image on the screen.
"That needs to be turned off," she said to me as we were getting ready to depart.
"Okay," I said.
"Now," she said.
"People still have their cell phones on," I said, "I'll turn it off when those have to go off."
"Well, the cell phones have to go off now, too."
I was tired and already annoyed with how rude she was to everyone, so I dug in my heels.
"When you make the announcement to turn off everything, I'll turn it off." I went back to reading.
She grumbled, walked to the front of the plane, and made the announcement. When she came back to my seat, I smiled at her and slid the power switch. The words of my book were replaced with an image of Emily Dickinson.
"Um, that has to be turned off," she said, as if to a child.
"It is," I said, as if to a very stupid child.
"Why is there something on the screen?" She asked, like she'd caught a child in a lie.
"I'm not sure," I said, with exaggerated patience, "ask Amazon."
Check and mate. She muttered something about not knowing how they worked (really? Well knock me over with a feather) and went back to the front of the plane, where she announced that "all new Kindle devices need to be stowed under the seat in front of you, or kept in the overhead compartment." I actually laughed out loud at that one, and started writing the letter to American Airlines in my head that asked when it became the company's policy that a three ounce device the size of a paperback book had to be stowed during take off.
I realize that I had the bad luck to encounter a flight attendant on a power trip, and I further realize that I deviated from my standard policy of being exceedingly nice and patient with people, but this asshole didn't earn that, and I just gave back what I got.
It points to a greater problem, though, with an airline industry that refuses to live in the now: eReaders are everywhere, and more and more people are carrying them for travel instead of paper books -- I love my actual books, but it's impractical to carry a 400 page tome with me when I'm travelling 30,000 miles in a few weeks -- so the airline industry needs to modernize and adapt to the reality of the world we live in.