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You can stop pretending to turn your phone off during flights now.
Following the Federal Aviation Administration’s relaxation of in-flight gadget use rules just over a week ago, United Airlines and American Airlines have announced that their passengers no longer have to switch off their mobile devices during takeoff and landing. (Although in-flight voice calls are still off limits.)
The FAA officially loosened its rules on October 31st 2013 after facing pressure from passengers, politicians, and the press to update its antiquated regulations. VentureBeat reporter Ricardo Bilton wrote that the regulations were initially implemented decades ago — electronics had to stay off while planes traveled under 10,000 feet to avoid wireless signals interfering with the plane’s navigational tech.
While airlines and the FAA have long feared that tablets and e-readers interfere with in-flight systems, there’s no real proof that such interference exists.
The FAA’s October decision leaves it up to the airlines to determine whether or not the use of these devices is safe on their planes. Jet Blue and Delta modified their policies right away, and United and AA are not far behind.
The battle between flight attendants policing the aisles for signs of illuminated screens, and bored passengers who don’t really believe their phone could mess with the plane’s navigational system may finally be coming to an end.
The same FAA panel also decided last month that Wi-Fi is safe to use throughout an entire flight. Like handheld electronics, planes could only turn their Wi-Fi systems on after reaching 10,000 feet.
Slowly but surely, those old draconian rules are adapting to modern times. People already have to deal with enough unpleasantness when they fly — long lines, taking off their shoes, having their $30 tub of dead sea mineral face cream unceremoniously thrown out by a 200 pound security agent. Airlines don’t even feed us proper meals anymore.
The least they can do is let us play Dots.