The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finally decided those rules about not using personal electronics below 10,000 feet had no technical or operational basis. But each airline must verify that its airplanes are fully compliant with FAA requirements before it allows you to fire up your devices as soon as you get to your seat.
As of November 15, Alaska, American, Delta, JetBlue, United, and US Airways have received approval for their entire mainline fleets.
Among the regional subsidiaries and affiliates, American Eagle, Compass Airlines (some Delta Connection flights), Endeavor Air (some Delta Connection flights), ExpressJet (some Delta Connection flights), and PSA Air (some US Airways Express flights) are fully approved. Other regional airlines—Chautauqua, Republic, and SkyWest—hope to be approved quickly.
Although the new FAA rules allow self-contained and Wi-Fi-enabled devices to be used at most times on approved planes, some limits still apply:
- You must turn off all such devices during routine safety announcements.
- You still have to stow any bulky devices, such as large laptops, under the seat during landing and takeoff.
- You still can’t make a phone call or send a text—a limitation based partially on wireless technology and on privacy concerns as much as on interference with plane navigation systems. So far, the voice prohibition applies even to VOIP calls that connect through the Internet rather than through conventional wireless systems. And your phone must remain in airplane mode throughout your flight.
Each airline issues information on its status. Unfortunately, the FAA website for portable electronics does not post current status information.
Last week, the European Aviation Safety Organization announced similar changes for European airlines. As in the U.S., airlines must first receive approval from their country’s civil aviation safety authorities. We expect that the big airlines will be approved by the end of the year.
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