Under the new directive announced today, passengers could read, work, listen to music, play games or watch a movie at any time. Under current guidelines, electronic devices must be kept off when the plane is below 10,000 feet.
Rules relating to phone calls and connecting to the internet remain unchanged. (Sorry, Alec Baldwin, no “Words with Friends.”)
Don’t expect these changes overnight. Before airlines can implement these rules, they must prove to the FAA that their planes are properly protected from electronic interference.
The FAA says most newer aircraft and any plane now offering wi-fi on board should have no problems. The airlines must also show they have updated their flight crew manuals to spell out exactly what is allowed and how to properly store the devices.
Some airlines have already run these tests and may soon be ready to submit their plans.
Airlines also retain the right to limit the use of all electronic devices should advanced landing systems be needed in bad weather. In these rare cases, the radio waves emitted by the device may affect the aircraft.