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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
The Airline Passenger Experience Association (APEX) and the Consumer Electronics Association released a survey showing that close to 30 percent of travelers have forgotten to turn off their phone, ipad, laptop or other device before taking off.When they do actually remember to power down, many passengers don’t actually turn their electronics all the way off. Around 21 percent of fliers put their phones and tablets into “airplane mode” and five percent sometimes shut down their devices, while 59 percent of travelers did as the airlines asked and turned their electronics completely off.
APEX says that 99 percent of adult fliers travel with some sort of portable electronic device and many want to be able to use it during the whole flying process, including takeoff and landing. The group hopes the results of the survey will help persuade the Federal Aviation Administration to loosen the rules regarding use of electronics while flying.
Last week on a flight from New York to Fort Lauderdale, a coworker had to ask a 10-year-old boy to turn off the erotica and to fasten his seatbelt. On either side of him sat his younger brother and sister. Across the aisle were his parents who had no idea what was going on until we informed them why he may have been holding the computer screen so close to his face. On a different flight another passenger was caught reading a Playboy Magazine. Next to him sat his young son. What gave this man away was the opened centerfold he was eyeing up and down. When a flight attendant politely asked him to put it away, he yelled at her for embarrassing him.
How common is it to see someone watching something rather risqué on a laptop, iPad, tablet or even the in-flight entertainment system in the air? I can only think of a few instances I’ve seen something that might raise a few eyebrows. When this happens, I’ll gently inform the passenger that there are children on board and remind them that other passengers seated nearby might find what they’re viewing distasteful. Nine times out of ten they’ll either fast forward through the scene or turn it off – end of story.
Do passengers ever complain about the content of something that a different passenger is watching? I’ve never had anyone rat someone out for watching pornography in flight. But I do get a lot of complaints about kids watching movies or playing video games that are too loud. Most parents forget to bring headphones for their little ones. I always hate having to tell a nice family to turn it down, but rules are rules and they apply to everyone, even those under 2 feet tall.
Is there a firm policy on how to handle passengers who are watching adult content openly? Pornography is not allowed on the airplane. If a flight attendant does come across it, we’ll discreetly ask the passenger to put it away. If that doesn’t work, we might issue a written warning. The warning informs the passenger what will happen if they choose not to comply. Refusing to obey crew instruction is a federal offense.