No More Dreaded Takeoff Power-Down: FAA OK’s Gate-to-Gate Electronics Use

You know the feeling, sneaking in a quick text or round of Candy Crush right as the flight attendant cruises down the aisle toward you. Then comes the dreaded, “Please power down.”

That could soon be a thing of the past.

tablet on plane
Once airlines revise their own policies, passengers could be allowed to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing on planes. (Image source: Shutterstock)

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday it would now allow gate-to-gate use of electronics without requiring passengers to power down at takeoff and landing.

“We believe today’s decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer’s increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. “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.”

Cellphones are allowed to remain on in the new rule, but they still can only be used in airplane mode.

According to the FAA, airlines will prove to the agency their carriers can safely allow the continuous use of mobile electronic devices. It expects most airlines to do so by the end of the year.

The FAA provided airlines with a tool to assess the potential risk of electronic devices during these phases of air travel. Airlines are directed to revise manuals and crew checklists pertaining to passenger use and stowing of these devices.

Here’s are the FAA’s tips for passengers regarding the new allowance:

1. Make safety your first priority.

2.  Changes to (personal electronic device) policies will not happen immediately and will vary by airline. Check with your airline to see if and when you can use your PED.

3.  Current PED policies remain in effect until an airline completes a safety assessment, gets FAA approval, and changes its PED policy.

4. Cell phones may not be used for voice communications.

5.  Devices must be used 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. You can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards.

6. Properly stow heavier devices under seats or in the overhead bins during takeoff and landing. These items could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident.

7. During the safety briefing, put down electronic devices, books and newspapers and listen to the crewmember’s instructions.

8.  It only takes a few minutes to secure items according to the crew’s instructions during takeoff and landing.

9.  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.

10. Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.

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