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December 09, 2016

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Andy Abramson

Brad-

You bring up some good points and I agree with you about "public voice" vs. "private voice" and hear it too often. The best suggestion though is the one sided call and reply with text. I've actually done that, but it's a generational appreciated approach.

Noise cancelling headphones and cones of silence may be the real answer, with each person "noised" out so no one hears them.

Brad Templeton

There are several reasons why it's worse than the already annoying chatty seatmates. Tests have shown humans have far less tolerance for hearing only one side of a conversation. It's way more annoying. (With chatty seatmates, sometimes they are at such different volumes that you get the same effect and annoyance.)

Secondly, when in a loud environment, people tend to yell into their cell phones. They don't realize they are doing it. The reality is the phone picks you up even if you speak very quietly. I believe phones should actually come with a built in feature that if you are talking much more loudly than it needs to get good SNR, it bleeps in your ear to quiet you down. Until we have that, no calls on the damned plane.

Indeed, no long conversations. You are crammed with other people. You are not in a meeting room. Glad you are flying together but have your chat before or after the flight or learn to keep it down. That includes me -- we all have this issue that if the environment is loud, we get louder. Even flight attendants. The main reason not to get the seat near the galley isn't the sound of the work. It's the two FAs who sit down to have a nice chat.

In today's world of IM, there is little reason to phone anyway. Problem is, some of the people you want to phone (mostly businesses) don't let you text or IM. How about a mode on the phone that does one way audio (you can hear the other side) but you have to type, and it does text to speech with the contact centers. Cuts bandwidth too. Of course, if we can do that, we could do the thing that makes you take your voice to a whisper. Yes, the phone can hear you just fine with your quietest voice. Then we're OK for a short call if you can do that.

Alternately, the app could require all calls be on speakerphone, but with the other person's voice set to the same volume as yours. That will stop the long calls, the private business calls, the lovey-dovey conversations. This is not just a silly suggestion -- as I said, studies show that hearing only one side is much more annoying than hearing both, and you would also be much more conscious of your intrusion if you hear both.

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