Skift Take

Happy Halloween travels. If you can’t be connected on your flight today, consider buying a Little Book of Calm. (That one’s for our Brit friends, straight from their Black Books.)

If you feel pricking on your thumbs and fear that wicked radio silence coming once you board the aircraft, you’re not alone.

The chill running up your spine, the sweaty palms, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, and deep sense of dread you experience when the flight attendant asks you to put your personal electronic devices on flight-mode has a name: NoMoPhobia (extra capitals ours, because this phobia is Geek not Greek).

The condition was first identified in a YouGov study commissioned by the UK Post and dubbed NoMoPhobia for “No Mobile Phone Phobia.”

It’s a serious condition, and should worry airlines around the world, Ian Dawkins, CEO of OnAir (who, not coincidentally sells products that can ease the “affliction”), told a gathering of European airlines and airports at the SITA ICT Summit in Amsterdam.

The UK study found that around 53% of Brits get anxious when they “lose their mobile phone, run out of battery or credit, or have poor network coverage.” It affects 58% of men and 47% of women. Symptoms are compared to “wedding day jitters.”

For 55% of survey participants, the fear stems from losing touch with friends and family. Only 10% missed being out of touch with work.

Connectivity providers are working on a cure, but there is a great divide over the pond for the best prescription.

While International travelers prefer full-use of their mobile phones and personal electronic devices, including web, text and voice, Americans panic over a possible plague of ringing mobile phones and loud chatting from seat companions. This is a condition we will call MoPhobia. Evidently, in America you can suffer from both, desperate to be connected but not too connected—a condition we’ll call IroMoPhobia, as in ironic.

Methodologies to treat these ills are diverse, but availability is limited by regulatory divides. Some international carriers have dosed their passengers with OnAir service, which gives full mobile connectivity, but cannot be administered over U.S. airspace. For MoPhobic Americans, texting could be the cure. Gogo and T-Mobile are betting on it, and have partnered to let their customers give their thumbs a workout to relieve all that pricking.

For now, NoMoPhobia is a challenge for the aviation industry, still deciding the question of mobility. But industry experts believe that the next generation will have a good laugh at our expense over these spooky days of dark connection zones.

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