Our online guru Eli Orzessek looks at flight mode and the Grand Canyon.
What exactly is the point of flight mode? Has there ever been an accident because of a mobile device being left on?

Cheers, Kelly

This was addressed by a pilot on a blog post for the site AirlineUpdates recently " and it seems it's more an annoyance than a serious danger. You've probably heard the sound that occurs when someone uses a mobile near an audio system " that annoying dit dit dit. This is because of the very strong radio emissions a phone sends out.

"I actually heard such noise on the radio while flying. It is not safety critical, but is annoying for sure," the pilot said.

While it's not a huge deal if one person has left their phone on, if 50 people on board do it, it could create a lot of radio pollution as they all search for the nearest cell tower.

"The interference doesn't happen every time a phone is on inside an airplane," they said. "I hear it maybe once or twice a month, and I fly about 50 flights every month."


And apparently, it's most likely that a crew member's phone will be a problem, rather than a passenger.

The post detailed the most serious case the pilot had experience, which occurred when a passenger had a long text conversation on a small jet as they approached below 10,000 feet on a very busy radio frequency.

"Every time he sent a text we'd get the "dit-dit-dit-dit" on the radio. From our end, it just meant that the typically spurious interference was not spurious this time and it was making us miss radio calls.

"We called the flight attendant, who assured us her phone was off and then noticed 2A was surreptitiously texting on his phone and trying to hide it. She told him it was interfering with the cockpit and he quickly turned it off."

Overall, it's common courtesy to flick over to flight mode, but if you don't, it's unlikely to have serious consequences. Regardless, we could all use a little time away from our mobile devices.

The last time I flew, I accidentally left an iPad in my bag that still had Wifi and Bluetooth turned on. Upon landing, I was wracked with guilt, but clearly there had been no obvious adverse effects as we landed safely.

I've got a week in LA and wanted to visit the Grand Canyon. Is it best to go on a tour or is this something I could self-drive? How much time should I allow?

Thanks, Barry Purcell

The Grand Canyon is about a four-hour drive from LA - and that's assuming you can avoid tough traffic around LAX - so it's probably a bit far for a day trip. My contact at Brand USA advises me that there are tours out of LA, but mostly they're two to three day tours via Vegas.

While you could do a self-drive tour all the way from LA, without a guide, if you do decide to go for a tour, it's probably most convenient to stop over in Las Vegas. And why not? You can definitely make a night of it, and you know what they say about what happens in Vegas

Here are a few options for tours:

Maverick do both helicopter and coach trips out the Grand Canyon: maverickhelicopter.com.

Detours also offer coach trips: detoursnv.com.

And to really travel in style, check out Pink Jeep " they have some really cool coach options: pinkjeeptourslasvegas.com.

Readers respond

Evan Lewis just returned from a cruise with a day on Huahine and had some further advice for Carolyn, who asked about renting a bike in last week's column. He recommended renting a car from Mary Josey for a full day at Avis - "the only way to go". He found it an easy drive, did 100km and said the coral gardens were amazing and to allow two hours. In his opinion, it's too hot and there are too many hills to bike and you shouldn't limit yourself to a tour.

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