U.S. fliers can soon use electronics for entire flights

By the end of the year, expect gate-to-gate use of electronics on U.S. flights.
Written by Tyler Falk, Contributor on

It's official: Soon you won't be required to power down all your devices when you're flying in the United States.

The long-awaited, but expected, decision announced today by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration overturns aviation rules that require passengers to turn off all electronic devices on planes below 10,000 feet.

What does that mean for airline passengers in the U.S.? You'll soon be able to use devices like tablets, e-readers, and smartphones during "all phases" of flights. Airlines could start rolling out the new in-flight policies by the end of the year.

What it doesn't mean? You'll still need to stow laptops during takeoff and landing. It also doesn't mean you'll be able to use cellular data to talk on the phone or use the Internet -- you're still stuck with the in-flight Wi-Fi.

Of course, it also doesn't mean that ever airline will choose to implement the new rules at the same time or at the same levels. Ultimately, it's up to airlines to decide how broadly they want to allow the use of electronics on their flights and how fast they are able to complete a five-step process required by the FAA to prove their planes can handle the electronics emissions from devices used by passengers, according to the Wall Street Journal. So if it's 2014 and you're still being told to power down all electronics, that's why.

My guess is that most airlines will eventually retrain their staff and revise their manuals -- and everything else that goes into a change like this -- to expand the use of personal electronics. No one wants to be known as the Luddite carrier. In fact, airlines are already clamoring to get the market advantage of being the first of offer gate-to-gate use of electronics.

The next step for more connected flights? Better in-flight Wi-Fi.

Read more: FAA, Wall Street Journal

Photo: Flickr/Eduardo Merille

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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