If you fly a lot like I do then you already know the routine: finish making any phone calls you need or returning text messages as quickly as you can be for the flight attendant closes the door. Once closed, the announcement will be coming very quickly to power down ALL electronic devices. Even the ones that do not transmit wireless signals like Kindles and MP3 Players (what’s that again?). I never understood why if you are in airplane mode, with no signals being sent or received by your device, who cares? Why just sit there and stare at the person in front of you or be annoyed at the air vent that is blasting you right in the face no matter which way you move it. Read a book you say? Oh, you mean a real book with paper? Who does that any more? I have tons of eBooks on my iPad waiting for me. But they will have to wait until 10,000 feet of course before you can power up ANY device as long as it is in airplane more with the radios all off.
The same applies of course when you are landing. Please put away ALL of your electronic devices in preparation for landing. Is that because I may be called upon to help land the plane? I don’t think so, Scooter. Then it’s right back to staring at the person in front of you and fighting with the air vent. Our outrage has not gone unnoticed and the F.A.A. has been meeting to determine what they can do to make flights more enjoyable to passengers who have spend A LOT of money to fly.
An F.A.A. panel is set to meet this week to wrap up discussions and make a recommendation to the F.A.A. on what should be done in this “Post PC” age, to quote the late Steve Jobs, where everyone has a mobile device and is pretty attached to it. In fact, 2 billion portable electronic devices are estimated to be sold this year. So you can count on a lot more people wanting to use them on the airplanes. The panel is supposed to make its recommendations by the end of the month, which some insiders think will only include being able to use airplane mode devices from both door close to door open without having to turn them off for any reason other than to answer the flight attendant if you are able and willing to sit in the exit row and enjoy those precious few extra inches of leg room.
Like all huge agencies, the F.A.A. is loaded with bureaucracy and change does not happen over night. Even with these slight changes the ruling is only expected to be rolled out next year. Cell phone calls, text messages, and emails will not be changed at all. At least we are getting somewhere right? Let’s hope the F.A.A. gets this done in short order.