Police: Man attacks teen over cell phone on plane
December 29th, 2010
03:02 AM ET

Police: Man attacks teen over cell phone on plane

A 68-year-old Idaho man has been charged with misdemeanor battery after police say he struck a teen who would not turn off his phone while the plane they were in was taxiing for takeoff.

The incident took place Tuesday evening on a Southwest Airlines flight from Las Vegas to Boise, Idaho, said Lt. Kent Lipple of the Boise police.

The man, Russell Miller, was arrested after the plane landed, Lipple said.

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Filed under: Air travel
soundoff (286 Responses)
  1. Rick

    Also if the airline tells you to turn off the phone, turn off the F'in phone! Is it THAT hard to hold down the off button and turn it back on in 5 minutes? You arguing for 5-10 minutes takes longer than to turn off your phone.

    December 29, 2010 at 11:34 am | Report abuse |
    • reg

      dude why turn the phone off? he had it covered, it was in airplane mode. get a clue old dude, it's against the law to assault people.

      December 29, 2010 at 2:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Spockanator

    The old man should join the cell phone police... Up in northern alaska, where its COLD

    December 29, 2010 at 11:36 am | Report abuse |
  3. The Truth

    I bet he will turn off his phone on his next flight. Most Pepsi generation folks have no patience for ignorance.

    December 29, 2010 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  4. GuerillaGorilla

    @Those people touting Aiplane Mode: First of all, it's been around a lot longer than iPhones have so stop treating it like some special iPhone thing. Second, switch whatever phone you have into airplane mode, turn on a set of 60KHz stereo speakers, turn up the volume, and place your phone right next to them. Hear that buzzing noise? It's called Electromagnetic interference (EMI), and it is caused, not by the wireless capabilities of your phone, but by the power running through the phone. Now pull your phone away from the speakers untill the buzzing stops. Now take that distance and multiply it by 25. That is the maximum interference range of your phone in airplane mode. Now turn your wireless on, check the number of bars you have, then find out how far away the nearest cell tower is. The EMI of your phone extends, again, 25 times that distance.

    Now take your average Boeing 737. There are over 6,000 sensors in the fuselage of the plane alone, and all these sensors are running through their diagnostics during taxi and take off. They are making sure the plane is safe. They are also extremely susceptable to EMI. EMI can cause a "false positive" result that is in reality a severe hazard. Or it can cause a 'false-negative" that will keep the plane on the ground. I'm not saying it happens everytime, and I'm not saying it never happens. But the possibility of it happening is there, and proven through tests.

    Next time you are on a plane, and your phone is in airplane mode, just think of this: Is my phone interfering with the sensor right next to me, that is checking the structural integrity of the plane right next to where I am sitting?

    The guy was obviously in the wrong for his actions, but the "kid" was too. As for me, I'm more passive agressive... If that happens on a plane, I stand up. That's right, I unbuckle my seatbelt and stand up. And when asked to sit down I will refuse to sit down until the kid in front of me turns OFF (As in NO POWER) their phone.

    December 29, 2010 at 1:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • jayme

      thanx so much, i have been stuck reading these posts cause i was just waiting for someone with a brain to post something. i can finally stop! u go!

      January 13, 2011 at 11:38 pm | Report abuse |
  5. GuerillaGorilla

    @Reg: I am a Network Security specialist. I deal with all kinds of data equipment, including smart/cell phones. Believe me, I can still find you phone, via wireless and cell detecting devices, even in airplane mode. The only way to keep me from finding your phone is to turn it off and take the battery out. I have confiscated several iPhones that were either in airplane mode, or flat out turned off, because of this "flaw" in wireless technology. As long as the transmitter is recieving power, it is transmitting. This "flaw" is generally a non-issue as the data-transfer portion of the transmission is disabled, but when it comes to wireless emmissions, it is still there.

    December 29, 2010 at 1:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • reg

      dude the point isn't that you can "find" the device, the point is he had it in airplane mode, which makes the phone safe for everyone and allows young dude to continue playing his game during the flight.

      December 29, 2010 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
    • GuerillaGorilla

      I agree that he can play it during the flight, but during the taxi and take-off he needed to turn it off and put it away, per regulations, which he didn't do, thus provoking the elderly citizen to resort to physical violence. The point I was making, and the point you were trying to defend against, is that even in airplane mode the phone is still transmitting. When turned completely off the transmissions are negligible, and it takes extremely sensitive and expensive equipment to detect it, but in airplane mode it is transmitting at nearly the same power as when in normal operating mode. The difference is those transmissions are nothing but meaningless white noise, at whatever frequency the anttena attenuates to (different from the broadcast frequency under normal opperations). So if you switch the phone to airplane mode and look for the specific broadcast frequency the phone programming generates you'll get nothing, but if you do a broad-spectrum scan you'll find the antenna frequency spitting out white noise. The only way to completely eliminate all transmissions from a phone is to remove it's power source (i.e. battery) and stop all power-flow in the phone (a process that takes up to 1 minute depending on the phone and hardware components of the phone). Of course your iPhone cannot have it's battery removed short of destroying the phone. So in terms of transmissions from best case to worst case it goes: Powerless, Off, Airplane mode, normal operations, normal operations with 802.11 wireless, normal operations with bluetooth, normal operations with 802.11 wireless and bluetooth.

      This IS reality, not your "Steve Jobs is smarter than the thousands of dedicated professionals whose job it is to verify the safety of airline operations." Last time I checked, Steve Jobs didn't design and build planes. Last time I checked, neither did you. Last time I checked, the company I work for DID design and build the planes that you are saying you know more about than anyone else out there. Oh, did I forget to mention where I work? Did I forget to mention I can walk down the hall and ask the designing ENGINEERS why cell phone use while taxi'ing and take-off is unsafe? I'm willing Steve Jobs could get those details if he so chose, but to the best of the peoples knowledge (including the engineers) he has never called or visited to find out about this information.

      December 29, 2010 at 3:06 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mr071

      Hey Know-it-all-network-cabling-specialist guy, maybe you should contribute your "knowledge" to Wikipedia (and see how fast it will get shot down). The page CLEARLY states that there is absolutely NO PROOF that electronic devices have caused or can cause any problems with aircraft electronics:


      Hopefully this incident will prompt FCC to get its head out of its behind and join the rest of us in the 21-st century.

      Oh, and btw, you still can't use your phone service WHILE IN FLIGHT but it's ok to pay for the new in-flight WIFI service. How come THAT service does not interfere with anything?

      January 12, 2011 at 4:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. bambam

    I would liked to seen that I bet it was intence as hell and funny just the look on ppls face when it happened lol

    December 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Bill Greenwood

    The FAA and the airlines should drop that nonsense that they are feeding the public about cell phones affecting the avionics of a modern airliner. It is not true and not even logical; but the traveling public has become like sheep and beleives anything they are told.
    If you could really affect the avionics and safety of an airline with just cell phones, don't you think terrorist would be doing it, ..... why bother with explosives? And by the way, you taxi an airplane visually, you don't need any sophisticated avionics to guide you, it is done as you drive a car, you look outside and follow the line or taxiway.
    AVIATION CONSUMER, a mag like Consumer Reports for aviation, tried an experiment in the air with a jet and all sort of cell phones and other devices and could not affect the avionics in the plane at all, in any phase of flight.

    December 29, 2010 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
    • bill (not greenwood)

      Hey Bill,
      Do me a favor and read guerrilagorrilas responses again, just to make sure it sinks into your skull...the issue is not about cell phone use in flight, but during takeoff and landing procedures. He makes excellent points, and pretty much blows away everyones idiotic commentary about cell phones not being a safety issue. It's pretty obvious he's an engineer with Boeing, and knows far more about it's avionics systems than most of you garden variety know-it-alls. God bless him.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:44 pm | Report abuse |
  8. reg

    people should get over it, Obamah was born in America, and an iphone in airplane mode means it is safe to use while flying. quit being stupid, get a clue, come to terms with reality

    December 29, 2010 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kay

      why R SO MANY ASSUMING the kid was using airplane mode? The article hints at nothing of the sort. VERY LITTLE actual information is given, including just how the man "attacked" the kid –

      December 29, 2010 at 4:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • bill

      reg, love your use of retorts...and I'm being sarcastic. You just ignored the fact that in the article, the kid was using the phone not while in flight, but during the taxi prior to takeoff. GuerrilaGorrila just blew about a billion holes through your assertions, and your above commentary shows you just missed the point, and think you still win the argument. I would have loved going up against you in a debating course in high school or college...even junior high.

      January 12, 2011 at 12:54 pm | Report abuse |
    • jayme

      reg...you have got to be the dumbest person ever alive. u need help. it scares me to know people like u are in this world. take off and taxi is not "in flight" omg!!

      January 13, 2011 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Mysterion

    Yes yes this is a racial issue as well as a political issue. I order all you tards to punch yourselves in the face really hard. This isn't even a serious story yet all you people are up in arms about it.

    December 29, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mysterion

    Hey reg: get a job.

    December 29, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
  11. really?

    I would punch the kid out if I had to pay for the seat next to him. Where are the parents?

    December 29, 2010 at 2:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • Rick

      Yea I probably would've taken the phone and thrown it out the window.

      December 29, 2010 at 4:23 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Rick

    @reg, airplane mode doesn't count b/c if the airline tells you to TURN OFF the phone, airplane mode is STILL ON. Last time I remember, ON is ON and OFF is OFF, so stop trying to make excuses. If you don't understand the mechanics behind how it works, stop pretending you do and comply with the people who do know about it. And like I said before, the commotion he caused made up for any saved time he would've saved so from a utility point of view, his action was unwarranted. The problem with this generation is a lack of respect for anyone; while skepticism can be appreciated, lack of respect is just poor manners.

    Again I'm not condoning the man's actions as he should let the airline crew deal with it, but I can understand his frustration. Also the man probably comes from a time where something like that wasn't uncommon.

    December 29, 2010 at 3:42 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Rick

    Also you're being hypocritical, you said it's against the law to hit people, isn't also against the law to not obey Federal Regulations? You can't pick which laws are OK to break.

    December 29, 2010 at 4:01 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Kay

    everyone seems so SURE he had it on 'airplane mode" – but the article doesn't say that at all. People read whatever they want sometimes!

    December 29, 2010 at 4:04 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Ranger

    This kid needs to be slapped for being a spoiled brat,and so should his parents for not teaching him to be atleast polite to those around him

    December 29, 2010 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
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