FAA: You Can Use Your Tablet, Phone Gate-to-Gate
Change will apply to planes that meet certain criteria
By Kate Seamons, Newser Staff
Posted Oct 31, 2013 9:30 AM CDT
A Southwest Airlines plane takes off Monday, Oct. 28, 2013, from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Seattle.   (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(Newser) – After story upon story about the FAA's declining resistance to passengers' use of electronic devices, the definitive headline has finally arrived: The FAA says airlines can allow passengers to use devices from gate to gate. The AP reports that the change will apply to planes that meet certain criteria for protecting aircraft systems from electronic interference. Most new airliners are expected to meet the criteria, but changes won't happen immediately. Timing will depend upon the airline.

What this news doesn't mean: That Internet connections will be available below 10,000 feet (they won't); that bulky laptops can be used during takeoff and landing (they still have to be stowed), and that cellphone calls will be allowed (still a no). Somewhere, Alec Baldwin must be smugly pleased.

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Showing 3 of 27 comments
Nov 1, 2013 8:42 AM CDT
The day they start allowing cell phone calls on the plane is the day I stop flying. I can't think of anything worse that sitting near some jacka** talking on his phone for hours while I'm trapped near him or her. It's bad enough listening to some people talk to other passengers they don't know.
Nov 1, 2013 12:04 AM CDT
In the US your cell phone still has to be in airplane (cell off) mode. However, there are 80 countries that allow in-plane cell sites, and let you use your phone in-flight, and it is becoming more and more common in Asia, Europe and the Middle East. Singapore, Emirates, British Airways, Etihad, and Qatar have it to name but a few. On many of the flights you can talk or text when the flight is in day mode and when the flight goes into quiet / night mode, they turn off the talk feature, but you can still text. There are a few airlines that only let you text, never talk.
Oct 31, 2013 3:05 PM CDT
Actually, Alec Baldwin was playing Words With Friends which requires an active Internet connection, and since the plane's Wi-Fi isn't available while on the tarmac, he was using a cell signal for Internet access. This will still be disallowed under the new rules. On the good-news front, in this one (very limited) case the government is going with evidence - zero evidence of tablets interfering with the plane's instruments, the pilots use tablets in the cockpit for pete's sake - and overturned a pretty stupid rule as a result. And for all the comments that are worried that people will talk on their cell phone during the takeoff or flight, that's still prohibited. Read the article.