Weekend humor from Celia Rivenbark: I trust airline pilots more than telecom execs

If the stress of booking a flight when there are 1,800 pandemic related cancellations a day isn’t enough, how about the news that even though pilots—PILOTS!—have warned new 5G tech near airports could “harm aviation” …AT&T and Verizon are completing their airport adjacent installations.

“Harm aviation” sounds like a super nice way of saying “will potentially make the planes fall outta the sky.”

Call me crazy but why would I take the word of AT&T and Verizon, who stand to make a fortune once this 5G stuff rolls out, over real-life aviators who have spent their careers keeping us safe in the sky?

That would be like not trusting scientists on the effectiveness of a Covid vaccine, instead believing “angry neighbor man” who claims the virus is “no worse than eating a bowl of bad potato salad.”

AT&T and Verizon are unhappy with the FAA and aviation industry experts who claim the new tech could interfere with onboard equipment like radio altimeters and disrupt flights. Right into a cornfield.

Both companies counter 5G technology is already installed around airports in France, snarkily adding: “The laws of physics are the same in the U.S. and France.”

Untrue. The laws of physics in France waste most of the day smoking in cafes with their free-range poodles, who also smoke. Duh.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete (“Pete”) Buttigieg is leading the fight to delay the 5G until more safety studies are done.

“I’ve got newborn twins, so I haven’t slept in, like, 120 days. Will this make planes fall from the sky? I dunno. Hey! Does anybody else see that moose on the ceiling?”

AT&T head John Stankey (seriously; that’s his name) is now pinky swearing not to deploy 5G around airports for six months.

“We hope that by then, Secretary Buttigieg will be in a better mood. Maybe somebody could get him one of those sleep machine gizmos…” Stankey never said but probably thought.

AT&T and Verizon are only expert at devising fun new ways to jack up your bill. Universal Service Fund? Gross Receipts Recovery Fee? C’mon.

It’s interesting to note the telecommunications giants are only able to use this new tech because they won the C-Band spectrum that makes 5G possible for $80 billion at a government auction. Which really makes that Depression-era glass butter dish I got for a buck fifty that time seem like even more of a bargain.

In general, airlines don’t seem to get much respect for safety protocols. I always feel bad nobody else watches the seat belt demonstration and I always give the stink eye to passengers who have to be told repeatedly—like toddlers—to STOW YOUR DEVICE FOR TAKEOFF. Announced repeatedly, I half expect it to be followed by a stern: “Don’t make me pull this jet over.” Flight attendants can’t buckle up in their weird half seat thing down front if Heather in 18F insists on binging “Virgin River” on her laptop.

So, I lean over and whisper: “Doc Mullins has an incurable disease and Mel is going to secretly get pregnant via AI at the end of Season 3, but she still believes the baby could be Jack’s.” Hahahahahaha.

I’m a rule-follower, particularly where matters of life and death are concerned so I always remember to put my phone in “airplane mode.” Once, I asked Duh Hubby two hours into a flight if he had done so and he said “Huh. I forgot.” Just like it was no big deal to have endangered all 140 souls aboard.

I love that term, “souls.” I never heard it until watching the fabulous plane crash movie “Sully,” the first time. It’s such a sweet way of framing passengers as something more noble. Not Heather, of course, but the rest of us.

Celia Rivenbark is a NYT-bestselling author and columnist. Write her at [email protected].

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