Now you won’t have to hide your cell phone anymore as the flight attendants walk by!
With the ink still drying on the FAA’s decision to lift the ban on the use of electronics below 10,000 feet onboard aircraft, Delta and JetBlue are moving fast to allow the use of devices like iPads and Kindles during all stages of flight. Perhaps as early as tomorrow we may never again hear “please power off your electronic devices” when flying on those airlines and others will soon follow. That is good news.
Gary makes a simple yet persuasive argument that being able to use electronic devices on the ground and at low altitudes will boost productivity and strengthen the economy. I think he is correct–there are only so many hours in a day and my most unproductive times are those periods between pushback and the double chime when I find myself reading a newspaper, listening to Channel 9, or even leafing through airline magazines and duty free catalogs. If I could spend that time writing e-mail or blogging, the minutes would soon add up.
Airlines will be able to implement this new policy as they choose, so we may see some holdouts, though I find it highly unlikely. All an airline must do to be certified is to submit a plan to the FAA detailing how it will abide by FAA rules. I cannot imagine this will be a detailed document…”FAs will instruct passengers to disable transmit mode. FAs will instruct passengers to place electronic devices down during safety briefings. Onboard wi-fi will remain unavailable below 10,000 feet.”
While today’s news is a positive step, it is only a first step–mobile phones and tablets must still be in airplane mode so productivity will remain hampered. (the FCC, not the FAA, regulates cellular calls onboard) But it is only a matter of time. There is some fear over the obnoxious cell phone caller amidst a captive audience at 30,000 feet, but airlines, like railroads, can adapt by providing a quiet section onboard akin to the old smoking and non-smoking sections. We know a non-smoking area in a compact metal tube can never exactly be smoke-free, but it helped–and the same will be true with quiet areas on airplanes. Time bans as well–such as no cell phone use on red eye flights–will also alleviate concerns that one will ruin it for everyone.
So we moved a step in the right direction today–I hope the airlines have begun to re-tool their safety videos!