Laptop, tablet restrictions on commercial flights may be relaxed soon

If you travel a lot on commercial planes, you likely have a laptop or tablet with you to pass the time. However, you currently have to keep those devices stowed during takeoff and landing. Now it's looking like those barriers could come down, at least for some flights.

Bloomberg reports via unnamed sources that an advisory committee to the Federal Aviation Administration has recommended more relaxed rules on the use of electronics such as laptops and tablets on commercial flights. The committee, which was formed in 2012, believes that on flights where Wi-Fi access is available, passengers should be able to surf the Internet, send email and read eBooks throughout a flight, even during takeoff and landing.

Officially, the FAA said in a statement that it will "determine next steps" for its in-flight electronics rules when the committee officially turns in their recommendations on Monday. Even if the FAA decides to revamp its rules, the current regulations that bar texting and calling on cell phones on commercial flights would still be in place.

The article points out that if the changes are approved, it would be a boon for Wi-Fi in-flight services such as Gogo, which gets its money by charging passengers for using its Wi-Fi Internet connections.

Source: Bloomberg | Lady with laptop on plane image via Shutterstock

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So many times the time between the cabin door shutting and taking off is upwards of 20-40 minutes. It all depends on the airport and time of day of course, but taking off from a busy airport (ORD or DTW, I'm looking at you) during a busy part of the day means a good 30 minute wait on the tarmac during taxi. About time I can read a book on my phone or listen to music.

You'd have to get the lawyers to agree that no final check would not create a liability. Since the flight attendants have to stay in their seats during taxi, they couldn't do it.

If you fly once or twice a year, you're right. It's not a big deal, and chances are your face is glued to the window watching the sights as you take off/land. I fly two-three times a month, I tend to close my shade and relax with an ebook and music. Having to sit and read Skymall for the 15th time during take off gets old very fast.

Everything has to be stowed on takeoff and landing and not just electronics. If something does happen they become projectiles. Phones probably aren't so bad except people will be playing on them instead of paying attention to where the exits are.

Exactly, it's not so much about the RF interference (which is less likely now, but had legitimate purpose some years ago) but more about paying attention and not having slabs of steel and glass flying around the cabin in the case of encountering wash from previous flights or other turbulence, also in the rarer case of wind shear or even a crash. Same reason for seats up and tray tables stowed, so if **** goes down, both you and the person behind you are in a position to survive, not get cut in half by a tray table and pound your skull onto a seat.

Is it honestly that hard for people to put away their precious damn computer for 10 damn minuets whilst going through the taxi and takeoff? I know from time to time I've listened to music on my phone during a landing on occasion, but it's been in my pocket or in the seat pocket.

I think its because a tablet is similar to a book and they don't make you put that away. A hardcover book is just as hard and probably heavier then a tablet.

So this is why the flight attendants go around and make you stow that book or magazine you're reading, right? Oh wait, they don't.

kagaku said,
So this is why the flight attendants go around and make you stow that book or magazine you're reading, right? Oh wait, they don't.

I can't decide if you completely and utterly missed the point or are just trying to be a jerk.

You mentioned that everything must be stowed during takeoff. On every flight I've been on, the folks that have a book are reading it during taxi and take off. How are these any less dangerous than a phone or tablet? How are these any less distracting when the exits are being pointed out? I've never seen a flight attendant walk up to someone and ask them to stow their book the way they'll ask you to "power down that device please".