It’s official: FAA to allow personal electronics during takeoff, landing

This was all leaked weeks ago, but it’s now official. The U.S.’s Federal Aviation Administration has eased restrictions on the use of electronics in commercial airliners. Using tablets, laptops, and other gizmos will soon be allowed during "all phases of flight," although cell phones will still need to have their cellular radios disabled.

Here’s the skinny, straight from the FAA announcement:

Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled – i.e., no signal bars displayed—and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones. If your air carrier provides Wi-Fi service during flight, you may use those services. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

The FAA goes on to say that the implementation of the new rules will "vary among airlines." However, the agency believes that "many carriers" will complete their safety assessments and receive FAA approval to implement the relaxed restrictions "by the end of the year."

So, yeah, we may stop getting badgered about turning off our electronic devices pretty soon. Sweet!

Comments closed
    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    You must not fly much. 🙂

    • davidbowser
    • 9 years ago

    The multi-cell phenomenon happens in skyscapers too, which it one of the reasons the telcos put some time into working on it. I have been in NYC on the 40+ floor of a building and watched my phone go from 4 bars to no connection. NYC has mini-cells all over the place on the side and tops of buildings, but once you get above the normal building height, cell coverage can get weird.

    • ronch
    • 9 years ago

    I wish airlines would come up with a policy where in passengers are required to use earphones if they would like to watch movies or listen to music with their gadgets for the sake of other passengers’ sanity, whether it’s 500 feet or 30,000 feet off the ground. Nobody wants an airplane cabin to sound like a video game arcade.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t see that as even technically possible.

    • johnrreagan
    • 9 years ago

    They should have been clearer on texting also. While I understand “airplane mode” and “no bars” means no texting, the next phrase saying no VOICE communication might lead to some confusion about texting.

    Just came back from CA the other day and a woman across the isle was texting all the way down the runway during takeoff.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t mean WiFi, I mean “Hey, you have a wireless mouse, pay up!”

    • superjawes
    • 9 years ago

    sschaem did post a link to what that “hot coffee is hot” actually did to that woman.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 9 years ago

    I was going to post a long rant with facts from the case and mathematics that would only further confuse you. I erased it all to save you the agony. You’re welcome.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Those… plus a noise-cancelling headset FTW. Though I can actually sleep without either.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Actually, I meant to write “tray table” — both that and the seatback need to be up on landing. If you need the tray table — as most people do for laptops, particularly the larger-than-netbook ones — the problem kind of takes care of itself.

    • Diplomacy42
    • 9 years ago

    sit in the last row of an airplane where the seats are welded just once and you will take that back

    • Diplomacy42
    • 9 years ago

    what would terrorists be doing in houston? thats silly.

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t know why people are downthumbing you; I think you’re right on the money here.

    And hot coffee is hot, dammit. It’s supposed to be.

    Kind of like how gasoline is flammable.

    Let the downthumbs come. I wear them like a badge of truth.

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    The stupid seatbacks should be welded in the upright position.

    Whenever somebody puts their seatback back, it makes it impossible for me to even use a kindle or iPad.

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    I don’t know what that means.

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    Uh, what are you talking about?

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    Earplugs, man. Try ’em. I mean the big foamy ones you have to roll between your fingers to compress them. They expand in your ear canal and make everything a sleepy drone. I started using them to shut out the fatiguing sound of the plane engines, then discovered that they do an even BETTER job of shutting out the droning of babies crying and talky neighbors. And they make me instantly sleepy, whoohoo!

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    Comeon, you guys can’t SERIOUSLY be telling me that you think any type of smartphone call is going to be welcome in the cramped confines of coach, are you?

    EVERYBODY I know talks LOUDER when they are on their cell phone. Even with earbuds or bluetooth earwigs. 10 to 1 there will be fights over this.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Satellite internet latency [url=http://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2013/02/satellite-internet-faster-than-advertised-but-latency-still-awful/<]is not good[/url<].

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    Well, you won’t be able to have the seatback down so if you need that….

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago

    Probably better than some of the internet connections in the US, sadly.

    Someone that lived about one block away from my house could either use satellite, dialup, or someone else’s WiFi, because the ISP wasn’t willing to invest in cable connections for his neighborhood.

    And my house had a reasonably okay cable connection (10 Mb/s down average for $45 a month)…

    • cobalt
    • 9 years ago

    No disagreement. I was mostly referring to Cyril’s phrasing (“Using tablets, laptops, and other gizmos will soon be allowed…”). Tables and gizmos mostly yes, laptops I suspect mostly remains a no. But tablets in keyboard docks? Not sure where they’ll draw the line…..

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    In that era it was hard drives; the only solid state storage onboard would’ve been in the black box.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    I can sleep pretty much anywhere. I usually have a much bigger problem staying awake.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    American, United, Continental, Southwest, AirTran… all the domestic carriers are doing it or have it in the works, at least on “select” aircraft. It’s much easier/cheaper to put in Wifi (and then certify there’s no interference with the avionics) than it is to replace all the seats with ones wired for power (and the upgraded electricals required in the aircraft to handle an actual outlet at every seat… I haven’t yet seen anybody just put in powered USB ports but that’s probably coming). And yes, they pretty much all charge something like $10-$15 per flight, though some of them — eg [url=http://www.delta.com/merch/searchTravelExtraAction.action<]AA[/url<]-- have monthly or annual passes for frequent flyers.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    They already [url=http://www.delta.com/merch/searchTravelExtraAction.action<]have[/url<] been [url=http://www.southwest.com/wifi/<]doing[/url<] that [url=http://www.united.com/web/en-US/content/travel/inflight/wifi/default.aspx<]for[/url<] a [url=http://www.aa.com/i18n/urls/entertainmentOnDemand.jsp?anchorLocation=DirectURL&title=wifi&cd=RPM2013&gc=ACM&cc=SEM&cp=TXT&skw=Inflight+Wi-Fi&tc=GOOG&pp=Continuity_Branding_Generic#wi-fi<]while[/url<]. And given that the vast majority of US airlines are operating on the verge of (or in) bankruptcy and you can fly across the country cheaper than it costs to take a bus, who's really surprised?

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago

    Actually, I do believe American Airlines or United Airlines has that WiFi policy. You have to pay $15 for WiFi access on aircraft that support WiFi connections.

    The hilarious thing was that their aircraft with WiFi had no AC outlets. Which meant you either have to bring extra laptop batteries (airport security may raise an eyebrow), a laptop with good battery life, or hog the bathrooms for their AC outlets when there’s a persistent line outside of them.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago

    I can never sleep while on an aircraft. Quite an issue when combined with a jet lag after flying halfway across the world.

    • willmore
    • 9 years ago

    Given how the airlines have been screwing over customers, who wants to bet they’re going to try to monitize this? No Wi-fi in coach? $5 for RF priveleges?

    • sschaem
    • 9 years ago

    Just for you (The rest of you can look away) to see what 200 degree liquid do to skin.

    [url<]http://plotmistress.com/wp-content/uploads/mcdonalds-coffee-lawsuit-2-Copy.jpg[/url<] [url<]http://www.tc.umn.edu/~nordi062/comm1313w/p5evidence/liebeck01.jpg[/url<]

    • sschaem
    • 9 years ago

    Are you the same guy that yelled and gave a lecture about terrorism to a 7 year hold that was playing tetris on his game boy during the landing of the Houston to L.A flight?

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 9 years ago

    0/10

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 9 years ago

    You really have no idea what the McDonald’s hot coffee case was about, do you? Don’t look it up now, just continue living a life of ignorance, parroting everything you hear. Would you like a cracker?

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    I can’t wait for the first dork to decide he’s gonna make a Skype call during the roll.

    Imagine the fun and games ensuing when he’s told to get off the “phone”. But he’s not on his “cell”…

    And then the passengers. Rioting. Blood. Broken bones! Phones needing to be surgically extracted from bodily orifices, old, new, dark, and blue.

    #squeakytightfit

    • BIF
    • 9 years ago

    #poopingoveryourhouselookoutbelow!

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    It’s the FCC that wants the cell radios disabled, not the FAA: the reason is that a phone at FL30+ can “see” a LOT of cells, which creates a lot of management traffic (normally it’s easy for the system to figure out which cell should be talking to your phone but when you’re airborne you look to be “in” several of them; multiply that by thousands of airborne phones). This used to be a much bigger problem but I imagine the networks have figured out ways to mitigate it, though presumably this rule exists because there are still issues.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    A couple of times on flights to/from Australia I slept through three movies and still managed to eat all the meals. Qantas used to have these great courtesy packs with a pair of socks, an eye mask, and stickers that you put on the eye mask that said either “Wake me for meals” or “don’t wake me for meals.” A guy I worked with had one of the “wake me for meals” stickers on his office door.

    • UberGerbil
    • 9 years ago

    As they should be. You shouldn’t have any luggage un-stowed during t/o and landing either. If bad things happen and you need to evacuate, you’re going to need to evacuate quickly and the less crap in the aisle the better. Not to mention the risk of projectiles making a survivable crash less so.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago

    No, they probably brought a 2 GB flash drive stick holding all of the low resolution movies.

    Actually, considering the fact that the aircraft had tiny CRTs and looked quite dated, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used something older than USB flash drives for the movie storage.

    • TwoEars
    • 9 years ago

    FINALLY!

    I travel a lot and this is going to make it a bit more bearable!

    • superjawes
    • 9 years ago

    I think the only detail you need is the fact that she got [b<]third degree burns[/b<] from the coffee. Coffee has to be "really ****ing hot" to cause that. Yes, that is the technical term.

    • hiro_pro
    • 9 years ago

    most of that money went to the medical cost of rebuilding her 80 year old lady parts. yeah, that old lady was burned that bad. imagine having your man junk welded to your pants by scolding coffee and being too old to jump up or out of the way.

    sorry pet peeve. they leave out 90% of the details of that claim when they talk about it.

    • Srsly_Bro
    • 9 years ago

    I’m positive they didn’t bring a single film reel on the plane.

    • derFunkenstein
    • 9 years ago

    You’ve always been able to watch Snakes on a Plan on a plane. Just not during takeoff/landing.

    • Firestarter
    • 9 years ago

    Sadly, common courtesy isn’t, or so it seems.

    • UnfriendlyFire
    • 9 years ago

    I remember about three years ago during a 23-hour United Airlines flight, their audio system failed.

    Yay for watching silent movies on 12″ CRT TVs with various colored hues. Oh, and they repeated two of the movies three ****ing times because they didn’t bring enough film for the flight.

    • Star Brood
    • 9 years ago

    Cyril, when are we going to see gaming latency numbers over airplane WAN?

    • Billstevens
    • 9 years ago

    I would imagine most people go into airplane mode simply so their phone service doesn’t roam the whole flight then at least some percentage just forget… There is no way to enforce that rule, as a flight attendant can’t even tell if a device is off or in sleep mode.

    If they really want to enforce that they should at least set up some form of in-flight automated alert message to activate air plane mode and maybe some form of RSSI detection to see who is not complying.

    I would say they should automatically be able to force your phone into airplane mode but that tech is too easy to abuse.

    • MadManOriginal
    • 9 years ago

    Looking forward to:

    Status…pooping ON AN AIRPLANE.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    I watched snakes on a plane for the first time on a plane.

    • Chrispy_
    • 9 years ago

    My biggest compaint is reclining seats in economy.

    Your seat base should move forwards reducing your own legroom if you choose to recline your seatback. As it stands, the minute one person reclines, they steal seat space from the person behind them. This results in a casade of everyone behind the first person needing to recline until you hit an empty seat, or someone who is so tiny that it’s not a problem for them.

    • mcnabney
    • 9 years ago

    Not going happen unless the kid playing Angry Birds was also flying the plane.

    • dashbarron
    • 9 years ago

    I still don’t understand why I am surprised, but I tend to think that we should show some common courtesy to our fellow mates when we’re on a bus/plane/in a restaurant/at the movies, etc.

    And yet disappointed I remain.

    • HisDivineOrder
    • 9 years ago

    Can’t wait for the first lawsuit from a family impacted by an airplane crashed argued to be caused by some kid getting three stars on an Angry Birds Star Wars 2 level.

    It’s gonna be a “McDonalds coffee is hot” moment.

    • cobalt
    • 9 years ago

    Agreed, but that’s hardly a new problem with this rule change. This only allows (some of) what you can do above 10000 feet to also be done below 10000 feet.

    • cobalt
    • 9 years ago

    They don’t much like laptops being out or in the seat-back pocket during takeoff and landing. Granted, the line’s getting blurry with, e.g., convertibles, but I suspect at least some airlines will continue to be persnickety about heavier laptops.

    • yogibbear
    • 9 years ago

    Beep boop beep boop WAAAAA beep beep BOOOOOM OH YEAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WE’RE GONNA HAVE OUR FIRST CHANCE EVER TO WATCH SNAKES ON A PLANE WHILE ON A PLANE!

    • jthh
    • 9 years ago

    For the love of all things holy, can we all please remember to use headphones?

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