FAA Says Some Electronics Can Now Be Used Throughout Your Flight

Flickr/Jetstar

If you’re tired of shutting off your gadgets during take off and landing (or you’re one of those passengers who surreptitiously leaves them on) then get ready for some good news. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that it is loosening restrictions on the use of electronics in-flight, meaning some devices can now be used the entire time you’re on the plane.

Under the changes, travelers will be able to use e-readers, play games, and watch videos on their portable devices throughout their journey. Bluetooth devices like wireless keyboards can also be used on flights. Cell phones will still face some restrictions, with passengers required to keep them in airplane mode. And as is currently the case, no phone calls will be allowed at any time onboard. The FAA says passengers may be asked to stow some heavier devices during takeoff and landing for safety reasons, but in general, the new rules reflect much more freedom for fliers.The FAA says it came to the decision after receiving input from pilots, electronics manufacturers, and passengers, and that the new rules balance safety with travelers’ increasing appetite to use electronics during flights.

The new rules won’t necessarily apply immediately, and exactly how they’ll be implemented will probably differ from one airline to the next. But the FAA believes most carriers will have the changes in place by the end of the year.

3 Ways The FAA’s Relaxed Regulations Will Make You More Productive

The New York Times recently reported that the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has officially ruled that regulations regarding the use of electronic devices on planes when flying below 10,000 feet can be relaxed. This will prove to be a convenience for all passengers and it will likely make flights more comfortable for many (fewer unsolicited awkward conversations, more playlists filled with music that takes you to your happy place). But this move is bound to increase productivity on planes for those who prefer to work while flying when possible. Here’s why:

1. Setup
When flying coach, like I pretty much always do, a compact existence is the key to a smooth flight. This means that if you want to bust out all of the things you need to conduct work after electronics are finally approved for use, you have to set-up your mobile workspace like a ninja to not interfere with the person beside you. This often leads to me not doing any computer work at all. The loosened rules, however, will make it possible for those who need to work to set up their little workspace when they first get to their seat and have some elbow room to work with. Sure, people will still have to fold their tray back into the seat in front for takeoff, but at least everything will be out and usable.2. Interruptions
Most people who work on the computer need to be able to focus. It can be difficult to get back into the swing of work if you started when you first boarded the plane but then had to power everything down for a chunk of time below 10,000 feet. We won’t have to power down now and can instead keep chugging along, hopefully much more focused than before.

3. Distractions
Unlike interruptions that cause us to power down in the middle of work, distractions can, in some cases, take an even bigger toll on plane productivity. If you get hooked into conversation with a neighbor who loves talking, which is easy to do if you can’t wear your headphones and at least pretend to be listening to music at the beginning and end of a flight, you’ll be less likely to accomplish what you had hoped to on the plane. These new regulations should help with that.

Cheers to the FAA for making such a sensible ruling and to all of you aspiring to increase your plane productivity: go get ‘em tigers. Or, you know, go get ‘em as long as your battery lasts.

FAA Could Ease in-Flight Gadget Use, GoGo Goes Public

We May Soon Be Able To Use Electronic Devices On Planes

While having dinner with a pilot once in Los Cabos, he leaned across the table and told our fellow diners and me, “You know you can actually use your electronics in flights, right? It doesn’t affect the plane at all.”

I believed him not only because he was a pilot, but also because we’ve all heard this before, these rumors about the irrelevance of the FAA rules about electronic devices on planes. But I also like to choose my battles wisely, so I always turn off my music when flight attendants ask me to and eagerly wait for the moment I can return to sifting through my phone for songs I’m not already sick of. Luckily for all of us who don’t want to disconnect, the FAA is meeting this week to complete the details on new and relaxed restrictions for electronic devices on planes. It’s expected that we still won’t be allowed to make calls, send texts or use the internet in flight, but more leisurely activities, like music-listening and e-book-reading, should be a go. This will likely make those moments of ascent and descent more peaceful, providing familiar distractions for kids and babies and an escape from unwanted conversations for many adults.FAA Reconsiders Gadget Ban During Flights

Developing Story: Airline Crash in San Francisco


A plane reportedly crashed upon landing at San Francisco International Airport today. CNN reports the plane was a Boeing 777 operated by Asiana Airlines.

A YouTube video showed the smoking plane at the crash site.

This has been a busy week for airline collision news, with a close-call near-collision above Michigan and a call for air traffic control changes after a number of near collisions in recent months.

Passengers on the plane tweeted about the crash:

Update: 3:59 PM EST

Initial reports from passengers indicate most people on board did not suffer major injuries.

Update 4:07 PM EST

Local news outlet KTVU is reporting that all flights into SFO are cancelled and roads around the airport have been shut down.

Update 4:11 PM EST

Passengers from Asiana flight 214 are being taken to local hospitals. The flight as en route to San Francisco from Seoul. Initial reports from passengers claim that the nearly 300 people on board the plane are accounted for. David Eun, a Samsung executive, was on the plane and posted updates via Twitter. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer was scheduled to be on the flight but switched to a United flight to use miles:

Update: 4:34 PM EST

Local news outlet KTVU now reports at least two people were killed in today’s plane crash.

Photos and video of the plane show a large, charred hole in the top of the cabin, and the tail is detached from the body of the plane. Details are still coming in about the crash, while some people speculated its cause on Twitter:

Others reacted to landing at SFO in general:

Update: 5:11 PM EST

Read a transcript or listen to the audio of the communication between the plane and air traffic control when the incident occurred here.

Update: 7:20 PM EST

San Francisco Fire Chief Joanne Hays-White: “The scene is now secure.”

Hays-White reports 291 passengers and 16 crew on board the plane. There were 48 initial transports from the scene to area hospitals, with additional passengers waiting to be transferred to hospitals. There were two confirmed fatalities. Some passengers are unaccounted for.

Two of SFO’s four runways are back in operation.

The FBI says the crash does not appear to be caused by terrorism.

Tarmac Rule Suspension Idea Heralds Really Long Flight Delays

tarmac ruleSequester cuts have had already had an impact on travel, grounding the Navy’s Blue Angels at air shows, turning Houston’s George Bush Intercontinental into a third world-like airport and delaying the opening of national parks. This week, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began furloughs for some of its 47,000 agency employees, including 15,000 air traffic controllers. Faced with flight delays that could add up to hours, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is considering a temporary suspension of the three-hour tarmac delay rule, making air travelers the clear losers in the deal.

Just when air travelers were beginning to enjoy better on-time performance by airlines, partially fueled by the 2010 Airline Passenger Bill of Rights, evidence is mounting that U.S. airlines will experience longer and longer delays. In response, the DOT is considering an application filed by Airlines for America (A4A) and the Regional Airline Association (RAA) to suspend the three-hour tarmac delay.

That rule also requires airlines to keep toilets open, provide water and essentials for passengers held for hours on the tarmac and allow them to deplane after three hours for domestic flights and four hours on international flights.

The exemption, if granted, would greatly reduce the possibility of airlines being fined up to $27,500 per passenger.Cutbacks are estimated to delay as many as 6,700 flights each day at the nation’s 14 biggest airports said a report in the International Business Times. Airports affected include Atlanta Hartsfield-Jackson, Chicago O’Hare, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami and all airports serving New York City.

History tells us that being without air traffic controllers is a bad idea, but not one that means long-term travel disruption. When President Reagan fired air traffic controllers in 1981, air travel slowed. But after supervisors and military controllers joined non-striking controllers, 80 percent of flights were operating normally.




[Photo credit – Flickr user shutterbug4000]