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Travel Tip: At Last FAA Expands Use of Portable Electronic Devices on Planes

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Ever wondered why you have to shut down your electronics when the plane takes off and lands? Well, now the government has something to say about it. A panel has made recommendation to the FAA about reversing the ban on portable electronic devices on planes flying below 10,000 feet.

On October 31, the Michael Huerta, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Administrator Michael Huerta, announced the change. Following new implementation guidelines, travelers can now use portable electronic devices during all phases of flight, from gate to gate. Don’t worry about loud cell phone calls, devices will still be required to be operating in airplane mood.

Implementation will vary among airline, but you can expect the changes to take place by the end of 2013.

The argument is if a book or movie has already been downloaded, how is it different than reading the in-flight magazine at that altitude? One study from Consumer Electronics Association even found that most passengers never turn off their devices in flight—either on purpose or by accident.

The fact is, those rules were developed long before smartphones and tablet were invented. They were based on studies from the ’50s and ’60s showing that FM radios interfered with navigation systems.

Now, what’s not up for debate is whether passengers can get online below 10,000 feet, or if they can make cell calls anytime during the flight. And keep in mind that there have been reports about potential problems. One NASA report compiled everything from electronics catching on fire to faulty reads on flight instruments—but nothing has been scientifically proven.

So follow the rules, but stay tuned for more developments.

For more information, visit the airline archives.

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