The Federal Aviation Administration is now allowing passengers to use electronic devices on airplanes throughout the entire flight, from takeoff to landing. However, it will be up to each airline to prove to the FAA that it is able to implement the new policy.
While some airlines will move more quickly than others, the FAA said it expects many carriers to begin allowing the use of laptops and mobile devices – in airplane mode, meaning with cellular connection disabled – during all stages of flight by end of year. That is good news for business passengers, who may find themselves chafing at having to shut down their phone or tablet in the middle of a work task.
The FAA said passengers can use Wi-Fi if the plane has an installed Wi-Fi system and the airline permits its use. Short-range Bluetooth accessories such as wireless keyboards are also allowed.
Michael Huerta, the FAA's administrator, broke the news at a press conference today at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in Washington, D.C. In its announcement, the FAA followed the recommendation of the Portable Electronic Devices Aviation committee, an investigatory panel set up by the FAA to examine the issue of in-flight electronics.
“We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumers' increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement released prior to the press conference. “These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future.”
Two things passengers still won't be able to do: make phone calls or send text messages. Those activities are banned under Federal Communications Commission regulations.