FAA Approves Electronic Use During Takeoff And Landing

The FAA announced that airlines may now allow electronics to be used during all portions of the flight. Cell phone use still remains prohibited.

Toby Ziegler, consider yourself vindicated.

One of the primarily annoying things about flying these days is that, despite the increased use of electronic devices, such as laptops, tablets, e-readers, and handheld consoles such as the Nintendo 2DS and Apple iPod touch, we are only allowed to use them during specific times of the flight, i.e. not during take-off and landing.  The reasons have often been considered hazy, particularly because despite claims of interference, the electronics on a jet airplane should be sophisticated enough to, you know, overcome those technical issues.  Otherwise, planes would be falling out of the sky thanks to a ham radio.  Now, the Federal Aviation Administration has admitted that the rule is a bit of a joke, and is allowing airlines to let passengers to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing, and any other time of the flight as well as well.  Of course, cell phone use remains prohibited.

The FAA made the ruling official today in an update to their website, with a full explanation, press release, and answering questions to the public.  The idea is that, by the end of 2013, all airlines that fly both international and domestic flights in the United States will be able to use their "portable electronic devices" (the official term) at any point of the flight.  There will still be some exceptions to the rule.  For example, electronic devices will have to be turned off in the event the airplane is suffering from low visibility.  Heavy items such as laptops will still have to be stowed away during the takeoff and landing portions of the flight, due to the chance that it will impede a flight evacuation.

Of course, the FAA ruling is meant to propose a "safe transition" to allowing use of electronic devices, so not everyone will get to it immediately.  Moreover, most of the major airlines have been quiet on the matter as of press time.  That said, it is known that Delta was already planning a quick transition to full-scale electronic usage, and could have things in place as early as tomorrow, November 1, depending on the scale of the ruling.  Furthermore, today is the start of a major airline conference, which is likely where the airlines will announce their plans in regards to the ruling.  In addition, JetBlue stated in a press release that it intends to be the first airline to implement the FAA ruling, though whether that is actually true remains to be seen.

In any event, consider it a small victory in making flights a little more manageable, especially as the holiday season fast approaches.