‘Smartphone Amnesty’: London City Airport gives holidaymakers a break from digital distraction with a Light Phone

Image of someone holding the light phone

With millions of Brits heading off on holiday this month, many will reach their idyllic beach retreat or beautiful city break, perhaps their only chance to unwind this year and stare at their smartphones.

Standard light phone

  •  London City Airport (LCY) teams up with Brooklyn-based start-up Light Phone to offer passengers a free phone which only makes and receives phone calls
  •  Passengers sign a Memorandum of Understanding which commits to switching off their smartphone and ditching the screen time for at least 48 hrs of their holiday
  • The ‘Smartphone Amnesty’ will help passengers avoid the digital grab for attention when on holiday – truly providing a break from work emails, apps, social media (and Brexit)

According to Ofcom’s latest figures, 78% of UK adults own a smartphone with the average user checking it once every 12 minutes during their waking hours. For holidaymakers, the smartphone can be a useful tool to plan activities, post holiday snaps on Instagram, and read up on breaking news at home.

However, the negative effects of excessive smartphone use are increasingly acknowledged, and to truly step back from the distractions of a smartphone on holiday, London City Airport is offering passengers respite from digital consumption by giving them a free Light Phone.

The Light Phone, created by the New York-based Light Company and launched in January 2017, has a simple interface which some consider to look more like a space age calculator then a phone, has been designed with an intentional lack of features to help users regain their precious time and minimise digital distraction. The product only enables phone calls to be made and received, with the option to save just nine phone numbers on speed dial. Its manufacturers say the Light Phone is “designed to be used as little as possible” and the product has already proved extremely popular in USA, with limited stocks regularly selling out.

Liam McKay, director of corporate affairs at London City Airport, said: “As the summer getaway continues, the Light Phone will help London City Airport’s ever- increasing leisure travellers reduce digital distraction and reclaim those quality moments with family and friends on holiday. After all, a summer break is about detaching from everyday life and work.

“I know from personal experience that it’s not always possible to avoid screen time when on downtime, as my wife will attest. This is an opportunity for some of our passengers, including those who typically use the airport for business travel, to try a digital detox”.

diagram showing different parts of the light phone

Kaiwei Tang, co-founder and CEO at Light Phone said:”The Light Phone gives back the most important things we have in our life but too easily take for granted, our time and attention. It is designed to be used as little as possible, and every design decision along the way reflects that philosophy.

“The Light Phone is actually an experience we call ‘going light’ in which the goal is not to use the Light Phone to place lots of phone calls, but to disconnect from the internet at large and maintain the peace of mind that you are still reachable by those you love the most. You know, if how we spend our days is always connected, always looking at our screens, that will be how we spend our lives.”

Dr David Greenfield, assistant clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Connecticut School of Medicine and founder of The Connecticut-based Centre for Internet and Technology Addiction, said: “The Smartphone can addictively keep us in a highly distractible brain-state and may inhibit us from making healthy choices.

“A holiday is a time to be truly present for ourselves and those we love and this Light Phone can help us focus on what’s really important.”

Passengers travelling to any of London City Airport’s 44 destinations between the dates of  August 13 and 27  will be eligible to register their interest in receiving a Light Phone by going to

As part of the arrangement, passengers will sign a Memorandum of Understanding which commits them to at least 48 hours of Light Phone use, while their smartphone remains switched off. Users can keep the same number if they have an existing smartphone with a call forwarding function, so urgent or emergency calls won’t be missed, and they can still dial friends and family should they need to. Passengers will get to keep their Light Phone at the end of their holiday.

London City Airport

© Photo credit: ANDREW BAKER