The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Thursday, October 31st that it will allow airlines to ease restrictions on portable electronic devices during all phases of flight, including takeoffs and landings. This decision was made after a panel from all areas of the industry determined that most commercial airplanes these days can tolerate radio interference from light-weight, portable gadgets such as smartphones, tablets and e-readers. Before the new guidelines can be put in place, airlines must demonstrate that aircraft won’t be at risk because of potential interference from portable electronic devices. However, it is likely that these tests will be administered as quickly as possible and passengers will be able to use their devices by the end of the year on most airlines.
This is great news for almost all airline passengers. According to the Airline Passenger Experience Association and the industry group Consumer Electronics Association, 99% of adult airline passengers traveled with at least one personal electronic device with them during the previous year. Once these looser restrictions pass, passengers will be able to use these devices throughout their flight. However, there are a few exceptions. Passenger will still be unable to make phone calls during flights and users must disable the cellular connection of their devices, or put them in “airplane mode,” throughout the flight. The second is that users must still turn off and store heavier devices, such as laptops, during takeoff and landing. In addition, like before, passengers will be unable to access WiFi connection at altitudes less than 10,000 feet.
There may be a few caveats to these new guidelines, but it will surely benefit passengers who like to use their devices for reading or listening to music.