Good news could be ahead for frequent flyers!
The government is one step closer to easing restrictions on passengers who use electronic devices – a change that could happen some time this fall.
Many travelers use personal electronics during flights to keep themselves entertained. Currently, however, those devices must be turned off during take-off and landing.
The Federal Aviation Administration doesn't bar the use of electronic devices when aircraft are below 10,000 feet. But under current FAA rules, airlines that want to allow passengers to use the devices must show they've tested every type of device passengers could use in order to make sure there's no interference with aircraft systems, according to The Associated Press.
That testing would be next to impossible for airlines, which instead opted to bar all electronic device use below 10,000 feet. And, according to the AP, most accidents occur during takeoffs, landings and taxiing.
Safety is obviously the biggest concern for everyone, but officials say that the electrical interference generated by devices today is lower than 10 years ago – a fact which could be offset by more people carrying those devices today.
If the rule changes, and passengers can use those devices soon, there would also be new certification processes required for aircraft to make sure that any risk is mitigated.
Supporters of the proposed changes say that the time has come to ease restrictions, calling them unnecessary and a burden for flight attendants to enforce.
Opponents of easing the restrictions are concerned that passengers will miss important safety information shared at the beginning of the flight.
As someone who flies at least once a year, I've always found that requirement to be somewhat annoying – but I've also thought safety was more important than my desire to read an electronic book.
As a parent though, relaxing that restriction could making flying with small children that much easier.
Currently, there is a good 20-minute window where a parent has to try to keep a small child entertained – and quiet – in a tight, small space. Kids can't free-range around the plane, and sometimes, coloring books and a selection of toys just aren't enough to keep their little bodies still and content. We've all had to endure a flight where a child nearby is unhappy – and very vocal about it – which isn't fun for anyone involved.
However, imagine the difference if a parent could turn on a movie for their child right before takeoff? I'm guessing some if not most of the children would settle down, tune in, and zone out – much to the relief of both the parents and neighboring passengers.
As long as the safety issues are resolved, however, I look forward to future flights with my ebook in hand, on a plane with content kids enjoying the latest Disney flick on their parents' electronic devices.