From the New York Times:
“The rules on when to turn off electronic devices on airplanes have long been a sour, and sometimes contentious, point for travelers. But faced with a surge of electronics on airplanes and under pressure from a growing number of tech-savvy — and increasingly tech-dependent — passengers, the Federal Aviation Administration recognized that change was inevitable.
This week, an F.A.A. advisory panel will meet to complete its recommendations to relax most of the restrictions. The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, according to several of the panel’s members who requested anonymity because they could not comment on the recommendations. The ban on making phone calls, as well as sending and receiving e-mails and text messages or using Wi-Fi, is expected to remain in place, the panel members said.”
I never understood the ban. If electronic devices are so hazardous to the safety of the aircraft, why are they even allowed on board? Could a group of terrorists use their cell phones to take down a plane? How many would it take to do that? Five? Ten? Fifty?
Every year millions of passengers use electronics when they’re not supposed to and nothing bad has happened. I myself have violated this rule many times without ever crashing an airplane. Either we’re just have amazing luck when it comes to air travel or maybe, just maybe, this rule is a load of bull.
As the article noted, the evidence that these devices interfere with the aircraft is mostly anecdotal and no conclusive link has been established. One would think that after all these years that cell phones have been around, there would be at least one verifiable instance where someone’s electronic device interfered with the operation of an airplane. And yet there is nothing.
So if there is no apparent reason behind it, why is this silly rule still enforced? Like an exhausted parent to a petulant child, the FAA’s response is “because I say so.” And on top of all the hassles that come with air travel nowadays, the last thing that the flying public wants is to be treated like a child.
So it’s time for the FAA to treat airline passengers like the adults they are and allow them to play Candy Crush while their plane is taxiing to the runway. It’s just the American thing to do.