The need to turn off and stow away cellular phones and other electronic devices until your airplane rose above 10,000 feet might not have been the biggest hardship of frequent flying; still, business travelers have welcomed the recent Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decision that enabled airlines to allow the use the mobile devices throughout a flight.
For years, the FAA said that the use of electronic devices during takeoff and landing could interfere with the aircraft’s communications, navigation and other systems. However, an FAA study conducted last year concluded that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals. This ability varies with each type of aircraft, and each airline must prove to the FAA that its aircraft are able to handle the interference.
Along with the availability of WiFi on a growing number of flights, the ability to keep mobile devices – including tablets, e-readers and cell phones – powered up (though in airplane mode) is helpful to business travelers who want to catch up on work while on the plane. However, note that you still can’t make phone calls or send texts while in flight: cellular service must still be turned off prior to departure of the airplane.
Now that the FAA has given the a-okay, it’s up to each airline to determine its specific mobile device usage policies. Major airlines, such as Delta and United, have already put their policies into effect: in fact, Delta has allowed the use of mobile devices throughout a flight since November 1. Specifically, Delta allows passengers to use tablets, smartphones and e-readers, in airplane mode, throughout a flight. However, laptops must still be stowed during takeoff and landing: the airline believes their greater size and weight could be a safety concern during any turbulence.
United has a similar policy, and notes that flights equipped with WiFi services still allow WiFi connections above 10,000 feet only. However, the airline is exploring options to provide gate-to-gate satellite WiFi.
Both Delta and United make it clear that the captain may still ask passengers to fully turn off all mobile devices in certain circumstances, such as poor visibility during landing.
If you are looking for a flight where you can “stay connected” and get to where you are going, just give one of our agents a call at Travel Leaders – St. Louis. 636.778.1081