Rejoice, holiday travelers! After getting the approval of its advisory commission, after months of pressure from Senator Claire McCaskill, and after getting back up to speed after the shutdown, at long last the Federal Aviation Administration announced that “passengers will 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.”
At first glance, the right to use electronic devices between zero and 10,000 feet might not seem like that big of a deal, since a great many passengers have been doing it anyway prior to the rule change. But for something so seemingly inconsequential, the reactions have been overwhelming. Flight attendants are delighted they won’t have to play “hall monitor” any longer, business travelers will be able to remain productive throughout the flight, and parents can settle their kids in with digital games and movies. Amazon even reduced the price of its Kindles by 15% to celebrate the news.
But … there are a few things travelers need to understand before they whip out their iPads with impunity. First, individual airlines will have to submit implementation plans before they’ll be able to incorporate the changes, though the airlines are quite keen to do so, considering it makes their passengers incalculably happier while costing them nothing. Also, smartphones and tablets will have to be in airplane mode, though one assumes that flight attendants won’t be asking to check every device in the cabin to make sure they are. (It’s probably worth noting that passengers should set their phones to airplane mode anyway, as an active cell phone will continue pinging for cell towers, which drains the battery considerably in flight.) And last, in-flight telephone calls were not included in the change, and for courtesy’s sake, with any luck they won’t be (this restriction likewise applies to VOIP services like Skype).
We’ll have to wait and see what effect the new rules have on demand for airport paperbacks and Skymall sales, but suffice it to say that we at AppMuse are overjoyed at the change.