FAA Eases Rules on Portable Electronic Device Use in Flights: Changes Could Come As Early As November 1

by on October 31, 2013 · 10 comments

in Delta, FAA, Travel Industry, Travel Technology

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Today the FAA officially approved a measure to allow passengers to use more electronic devices during taxi, takeoff and landing, though each airline will need to follow guidelines and roll the changes out once they are fully prepared. Devices like iPhones, iPads, Kindles, DVD players and headphones may remain on during taxi, takeoff and landing as long as they are in airplane mode. Wi-Fi will still be turned off below 10,000 feet.
TSA PEDDelta claims they are the first airline to submit their plan to the FAA for approval, which is outlined here and they say they are ready to implement these changes starting as soon as tomorrow (November 1, 2013) on a large portion of their domestic flights.

“Delta is ready to allow its customers to be the first to use their portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet as early as Nov. 1, 2013 pending Federal Aviation Administration approval. All Delta aircraft have completed carrier-defined PED tolerance testing to ensure the safe operation of passenger portable electronic devices during all phases of flight and Delta’s plan has been submitted to the FAA for approval.

In support of the FAA’s call for expanded PED usage in flight, more than 570 mainline domestic aircraft stand ready to allow customer use of e-readers, tablets, and smartphones, all in airplane mode, during taxi, takeoff and landing on domestic flights. Delta Connection’s more than 550 regional aircraft will be ready by the end of the year. In-flight Wi-Fi will continue to be available for customers above 10,000 feet.”

Top tips for passengers from the FAA:

  • Changes to PED policies will not happen overnight and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED. Airlines may allow passengers to use handheld PEDs such as tablets, e-readers, and smartphones.
  • Current FAA rules remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment and changes its PED policy.
  • Cell phones may not be used for voice communications or for cellular connections.
  • Use electronic devices in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use.
  • Properly stow heavier devices like standard laptops under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.
  • Put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the safety briefing.
  • It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.
  • In some instances of low visibility — about one percent of flights — some landing systems may not be proved PED tolerant, so you may be asked to turn off your device.
  • Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.
  • Make safety your first priority.

It’ll be interesting to see how this plays out and if flight attendant actually try to verify airplane mode on devices. I’m sure the actual implementation will vary greatly like it does today with some flight attendants being lax and some being vigilantes. All in all, I think this is a good change and I can’t wait to catch up on all of my backlogged Breaking Bad and American Horror Story that I have queued up in my iTunes account!

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  • bkoehler

    Airplane mode can be verified by seeing what devices are checking for wireless access.

  • thepointsguy

    Yea, but you’d still need to check the screen on every phone, which could take a long time

  • bkoehler

    Not necessarily; if your primary concern is verifying devices don’t have wireless enabled planes could use a wireless access point to see what devices are checking for signal, which in turn tells them what devices still have wireless enabled.

    I was on a flight earlier this month where the captain announced he was still seeing some iPads turned on. I suspect what he meant was he was still seeing some iPads trying to connect via wireless.

  • Dieuwer

    Or he was bluffing

  • ryan

    That is theoretically true for WiFi but not for cellular connection. They will have no of verifying short of looking at the device whether its connected.

  • LarryInNYC

    I think they’re more concerned about the cell radios than the wifi.

    I do think, however, that if they were really all that concerned about various wireless signals they could develop a detection technology that would actually indicate the approximate location in the plane of any devices broadcasting. It would surely be a substantial additional cost, but if it were a genuine safety issue it would, presumably, be worth it.

  • Nick Ewen

    Phenomenal news! I am flying Delta tomorrow and will report back on whether or not they have started implementation on the 1st.

  • Karina111

    The wireless point will have a very difficult time pinpointing the offending device. It could easily be an ipad someone has in “sleep” mode in their carry-on or even checked baggage.

  • Dan Nainan

    I’ve been ignoring these ridiculous rules for years. Especially considering that the pilots have been using iPads, which are much closer to the cockpit, and that I’ve seen flight attendants using their phones on taxi before takeoff.

    Funny, none of my flights ever crashed.

    Oh, and here’s the real reason they don’t want us to use cell phones on planes. It is because the cell phone companies don’t want it, because people could get away with making free phone calls if the call is assigned to the wrong cell.

  • LoveToTravel

    Not true on Delta Express yet!

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