The FAA has finally released their guidance for personal electronic devices on planes. And simply put, it is simply a slight extension of what most airlines already do. However, as a frequent traveler I must say that some airlines go to incredibly long lengths to ensure that your personal electronic devices are OFF, not just in airplane mode. Currently most people are not allowed to turn on their personal electronic devices until they reach 10,000 feet, which is ridiculous for basically any device other than a cell phone or any cellular capable device.
The new FAA rules basically state that people with devices that don’t communicate with cellular towers or make phone calls can remain on during the entire duration of the flight from gate to gate. Which, if anyone understands how most of these devices are made, makes sense. Realistically, the only possible technologies that could pose problems are the cellular data and voice technologies on most phones and some tablets and laptops. However, heavier personal electronic devices will still have to be stowed (like bigger laptops). There is still too much vague wording in this part of things since some ultrabooks are actually lighter than most tablets are, so that may pose some issues for people using Ultrabooks or convertibles like the Lenovo Yoga 2 that we’re currently testing.
The FAA has also created a simple infographic to explain the new rules and what is and isn’t allowed.
Based on all this information, we can state that the FAA expects airlines to adopt these newer, more relaxed policies by the end of 2013, however there is a possibility that not all planes will have these newer more lax rules due to some belief that an older plane may be more susceptible to interference. I’m personally tired of flight attendants telling me to power off a device that is already in airplane mode since it basically makes no difference. No phone or tablet that has actually passed FCC certifications could ever emit enough interference from non-cellular usage to affect the plane’s instruments. We applaud these new rules and hope to see them implemented very quickly. Just remember, as long as your devices are in airplane mode, you should have no issues from gate to gate, theoretically.