Professor Bainbridge warns that unrestricted cell phone use on planes is on the way. Everyone who doesn't have the luxury of shutting off a hearing aid knows how bad this will be. And yet, there may be cause for all-too-distant hope. As a 10-year commuting vet on New Jersey transit, I’ve noticed an evolution in cell phone use on rush-hour commuter trains: most regular commuters do keep it down. Their fellow commuters have perfected the slow head-turn and glare, and the occasional ‘can you keep it down?’; most of us have grown at least marginally sensitive to the common interest in peace. It’s different, though, on weekend and off-peak trains: grandma doesn’t have a clue, teens don’t care, show-and-shopping excursionists are oblivious. I imagine that plane passengers will unfortunately be more like the off-peak crowd, except maybe on the major biz shuttle routes.
Attention, passengers: earplugs are cheap and reasonably effective, if a bit uncomfortable. They're not really good enough if the yakker is right next to you.