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05 February 2016

Wi-Fi on Swiss International Airlines Long-Distance Flights

UPDATE 18 February 2016:  Reply from Swiss:
(posted after letter)

Wi-Fi on Swiss International Airlines long-distance flights

Communication sent to the CEO of Swiss International Airlines, Mr. Harry Hohmeister, on 5 February 2016, copied to the Swiss Federal Office of Civil Aviation.

Dear Sir:

For many years, I have been travelling between New York and Geneva, enjoying the friendly, efficient service and comfort of Swiss.

I was therefore dismayed to learn that Swiss is planning to install Wi-Fi on its long-distance fleet, especially as I am physically sensitive to Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi emits electromagnetic waves (radiofrequency / non-ionizing radiation) classified as "possibly carcinogenic to humans" by the International Agency for Research on Cancer in 2011. The harmful effects of Wi-Fi include heart problems and neurological troubles affecting brain function, mental stability, and cognitive capacity, even in individuals who have no medical antecedents of these disorders. Airline crew are already being exposed to ionizing radiation (during the flight) which makes them vulnerable to fertility problems and cancer. The negative health effects of Wi-Fi would be amplified by the enclosed metallic space of the cabin and would add to the cumulative effect of other systems on the aircraft which emit electromagnetic fields.

Regarding airlines which have already installed Wi-Fi on their planes, have the short- and long-term effects of this technology been tested on cabin personnel? Are the personnel and passengers being systematically monitored for health problems associated with Wi-Fi?

Security on board is vital. There have been incidents of pilots losing consciousness, apparently in planes equipped with Wi-Fi. The cabin crew could become incapacitated from exposure to Wi-Fi, putting in danger everyone on board, especially in emergency situations.

Is Wi-Fi being installed only to satisfy and entertain passengers? One recalls the catastrophic crash of the New York-Geneva Swiss Air flight in 1998 off the coast of Nova Scotia due to damage from a fire caused by an electrical problem in the passenger entertainment system.

There is also the worrisome issue of security, to be seriously considered in these times of terrorist threats. It is feasible for someone to use inflight Wi-Fi to hack into the avionics equipment, potentially disrupting or modifying satellite communications which could interfere with the aircraft's navigation and safety systems.

Finally, Wi-Fi on board an aircraft makes it impossible for electro-hypersensitive persons (estimated to comprise at least 5% of the world's population) to travel in comfort. Electromagnetic waves are omnipresent in the environment: in nearly all public spaces and on all means of transport. To be connected 24 hours a day, 7 days a week everywhere increases stress and the potential for all of us to become electrosensitve. Sensitive persons can no longer work in offices and other places connected by Wi-Fi, find lodging free of waves, and frequent public spaces - and now - travel - in a word, lead a normal life.

Flights without Wi-Fi would be an asset: a relief from stress not only for the electrosensitive but also for business people and everyone else on board, including the crew.

Thank you for you attention.

Yours truly,
(Ms.) Meris Michaels

Reply from Swiss International Airlines
18 February 2016:

Thank you for your correspondence to Mr Hohmeister, which has been personally forwarded to me so I may advise.

The decision to install Wi-Fi on our fleet comes with the ever increasing demand of passengers to remain connected during their flights.

Whilst I cannot offer comment on your personal indisposition, we do understand your concerns. In our decision to install Wi-Fi we have had extensive consultations with professionals in this field. I assure you, the decision to do so has been taken with every consideration to the passenger health and security.

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

Yours sincerely,

Charles Malone
Premium Feedback Services
Swiss International Air Lines Ltd.

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