GPS devices on flights? Maybe

Is it even possible to use a GPS device on a commercial aircraft? That’s the question being asked by many who would just like to see where they are from time to time, on a device they are familiar with.

“Of the 10 airlines who responded to my query, only two (Delta and Southwest Airlines) gave an outright yes about GPS devices being allowed during flights. Three (Continental, JetBlue and United) said it’s at the discretion of the pilot. The other five said no, but then added that the pilot may permit use. Those five include Alaska and American” says Ann Tatko-Peterson of the
Contra Costa Times.

So it might be worth a try, but will it even work? Most sources say yes which is good news for travelers who may have tried iPhone apps that vary by quality from good as in FlightTrackPro to bad for WindowSeat.

“It might be okay, depending on several factors. Remember, at all times you must obey crew member instructions. On some airlines it is in their policies to not allow GPS receivers to be used while onboard the aircraft. On other airlines there might not be a policy against it, in which case it is up to the crew. If they tell you not to use it, you don’t use it, end of story” says adding “Additionally, some GPS devices carry transmitters of some sort such as the Rino series from Garmin as well as Bluetooth GPS receivers. Since transmitter devices are not allowed on commercial flight this will also ground those types of GPS receivers from being used. In the end it is rare for all of the stars to align properly to allow the use of GPS onboard a commercial aircraft and I imagine it will only become more difficult with today’s security threats.”

Gadling has covered GPS gear for quite some time and noted the limitations of the technology before.

Our Kraig Becker found out “Despite some of these drawbacks to the use of a hand held GPS, they can be quite a powerful addition to anyone’s mandatory gear list. They are an excellent navigational tool, as long as the person using it is familiar with both the strengths and limitations of such a device. Finding our way in the backcountry has never been so easy, and we’re definitely safer than ever while on the trail.

Flickr photo by alvxyz