FAA Says Some Electronics Can Now Be Used Throughout Your Flight

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.

Photo Of The Day: Leaving Denver

“Please stow your electronic devices for takeoff.”

Flickr user (and Gadling Flickr Pool member) Peter Rood might have bent that rule just a little bit on his recent departure from Denver, Colorado. The view from Rood’s flight, as it ascended through the stormy skies, is gorgeous.

We’d love to feature your photos and videos on Gadling, so please add them to our Flickr Pool (with Creative Commons licensing!), tag @GadlingTravel on Instagram or email us at OfTheDay@gadling.com.

Airline Madness: Rude airline staff vs. Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing

Airline Madness is Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances. You can catch up on all of the previous tournament action here.

Our penultimate first round Airline Madness match-up pits #7 Rude airline staff against #10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff and landing. While we almost expect other passengers to be obnoxious, airline employees work in customer service positions and should conduct themselves accordingly. Yet, short tempers, terse responses and ambivalent tones seem to be the norm when dealing with the folks in uniforms. We’re also infuriated by having to turn off our electronic devices during takeoff and landing despite insufficient evidence to support whether these practices are even necessary.

We have more to say on both of these peeves – and your chance to vote – below.#7 Rude airline staff
What happened to “the customer is always right”? While airline employees don’t need to acquiesce to every obnoxious customer request, they should treat passengers with respect and seek to be calming, helpful members of the travel experience. Sadly, though, too many gate agents, flight attendants and airport staff are short-tempered, ill-mannered and jaded. When customers need help most, they often encounter attitudes that simply exacerbate the problem.

#10 Having to turn off electronic devices during takeoff & landing
As previously mentioned, little-to-no evidence exists that electronic devices actually pose a risk to airplane equipment. This is particularly true for devices that do not have data access or have been switched into airplane mode. Why should we have to turn off our music and put away our Kindles simply because the cabin door has closed (especially when, as is often the case, takeoff is still 30 minutes away)? If you’ve ever been on a flight in which you heard somebody’s cell phone ring and then landed safely, you know that even mobile phone service isn’t interfering with the captain’s ability to control the plane.

Only one of these annoyances will punch its ticket for the second round. Vote for the one that you simply can’t stand and let us know why you feel that way in the comments.
First round voting ends at 11:59PM EDT on Friday, March 16.

More Airline Madness:
#1 Annoying passengers vs. #16 Disgusting bathrooms
#2 Legroom vs. #15 Inefficient boarding procedures
#3 Lack of free food/prices for food vs. #14 Cold cabin/no blankets
#4 Baggage Fees vs. #13 Obese people who take up two seats
#5 Lack of overhead space vs. Inattentive parents of crying babies
#6 Change fees/no free standby vs. #11 Lack of personal entertainment/charging for entertainment
#8 People who recline their seats vs. #9 People who get mad at people who recline their seats
Hotel Madness: Gadling’s tournament of airline annoyances

Catch up on all the Airline Madness here.

Video: ten terrifying landings, takeoffs and flights

It is pretty safe to say that 99.99% of all flights are completely uneventful, but every now and then you’ll find yourself on a flight from hell. We’ve collected ten videos of poor takeoffs, poor landings and dreadful in-flight turbulence. Just remember – any flight you can walk away from can be considered a successful flight.

In the first video, you’ll see JetBlue flight 292 trying to land with a broken nosewheel. The amazing flight crew managed to land the plane without any real problems. This plane also went down in history as the first where the passengers were able to watch their own plane emergency on live TV thanks to the DirectTV service.

Ecuador, bumpy takeoff.

Aborted landing of a KLM 747 at St.Maarten airport – watch at the plane comes in to land but is faced with an occupied runway.

Watch as the pilot of this Concorde decided the crosswinds are too much for a safe landing. Such an amazing plane, and a real shame she’s no longer with us.

This is the aftermath of some really nasty turbulence on a Kuwait Airways flight. Passengers seem stunned, and the aisle is full of stuff from the overhead bins. Thankfully, most turbulence is limited to being thrown around a bit and almost never results in anything worse.

American Airlines coming in for a landing in Honduras at Tegucigalpa airport.

Same airport, from cockpit view.

Watch this Boeing 747 almost run out of asphalt – and witness the spotters freak out a little when 800,000 lbs of plane flies towards them.

Another awesome clip from St.Maarten airport. The beach at the end of the runway is notoriously dangerous, but that didn’t stop these people from enjoying some sun, sea and sand. Until the jet took off that is…

This is one of those landings where the passengers ask the pilot whether he landed the plane, or if he was shot down.

Galley Gossip: A question (and a poll) about breastfeeding on the airplane

Dear Heather,

Is it okay to breastfeed on the airplane–specifically take-off and landing. Do the flight attendants allow it? Do you need to cover up?

Maggie R.

Dear Maggie,

Of course it’s okay to breastfeed on the airplane! And if you are going to do it, take off and landing is the best time to do it. A constant swallowing motion will help ease those little ears in a pressurized cabin when a pacifier just won’t cut it.

While flight attendants do allow breastfeeding, there are always a few bad apples in the bunch who may throw a hissy fit if you are showing too much skin – or any skin at all. Therefore I suggest you cover up with a blanket you’ve brought from home. Don’t depend on the airline to provide you a blanket, since most airlines do not carry blankets anymore and some even charge for blankets. Not to mention the filth and bacteria that probably live on those synthetic blankets. Or just use whatever you want to keep those prying eyes off your chest. Trust me, you are not imagining those glares, and even worse, those who stare.

“A man can not not look at a breast. If I see a breast I have to look at it. It could be an eighty year-old woman, but if there’s a nipple involved I’m looking. I’m sorry, I can’t help it, a breast is a breast,” said the husband a man who prefers to remain anonymous.

Unfortunately (or would that be fortunately?) not everyone feels the same as the man above, especially when the breast in question belongs to a woman caring for a child. Sure it’s socially acceptable to come onboard scantily dressed (and whine about the airlines not having blankets) and flaunt it down the aisle, but to use that same breast to feed a hungry baby is still a tad bit controversial for some reason. STILL.

Your question, Maggie, reminds me of an incident I experienced aboard a flight from New York to Los Angeles just a few months ago…

I was sitting on the jumpseat chatting with a passenger, when another passenger came to the back of the airplane carrying an infant in her arm and holding hands with a little girl who looked to be about two or three. The young mother stood in front of the lavatory door squinting.

“It’s vacant,” I told her.

She blushed. “I need to breastfeed, so it may take awhile. Just knock if someone needs to use the bathroom and I’ll come out.”

I gave her a look, the are-you-crazy-look, because as a mother of a two year-old I know it’s not easy sharing that tiny space just to change a diaper, let alone sharing it with a toddler and an infant who needs to be fed. Seriously, no one should be stuck in that germ infested port-o-potty for any length of time, particularly a newborn!

“You don’t want to do it at your seat?” I asked the mother of two very quiet children, and when I asked this question I could feel the eyes of the other flight attendants glaring at me. I looked at them, smiled, and then looked back at the passenger. “Because you can do it at your seat. If you want. But if you don’t want to that’s fine also.”

“Well…there’s a little boy sitting beside me and…I don’t know…I’ll just go in here.”

“It’s up to you,” I said, and like that the lavatory door shut and the vacant sign changed to occupied.

I know a lot of people who are uncomfortable with the idea of a breastfeeding mother sitting next to them, or even near them, on the airplane. It’s normal to feel that way. But it’s also normal to breastfeed a baby! Even on the airplane.

“Yeah well I once had this woman on my flight pull down the top of her sundress and breastfeed a child that was big enough to sit in the seat. Right out in the open. She wasn’t hiding a thing. The kid looked to be about five or six years old!” my mother said when I told her about what I was writing.

Thankfully most mothers who breastfeed are usually very good about doing what needs to be done without anyone knowing it’s even happening. Sure there are a few mothers out there who are not discreet, who do not care to be discreet, mothers who make even me uncomfortable, especially when I have to reach over the boob to place a drink on the tray table, but the majority of mothers I come into contact with feel a little weird about breastfeeding on an airplane, just as weird as you do about seeing a baby being breastfed on the airplane. But a mom’s gotta do what a mom’s gotta do! Better a breastfed baby than a crying baby I say. So unless the kid is big enough to….well…you know, JUST BIG, as in real big, give the mom a break! It’s not easy traveling with a baby.


Photo of mother and child courtesy of Bertabetti