The end is in sight for that game in which the flight attendant tells you to turn off your e-reader for takeoff like she really thinks it's going to crash the plane, and you nod solemnly and pretend to actually turn it off until she's out of sight. Last week, sources told the AP that the FAA advisory committee had voted to approve the use of smartphones, tablets, e-readers, and other gadgets for takeoff and landing. But a senior Amazon executive on the advisory panel now tells the Wall Street Journal that the new recommendations go even further, clearing the way for "gate to gate use" of devices, regardless of the apps they're running or the wireless transmission mode they're in.
Paul Misener, Amazon's VP of global public policy, also says the panel recommended a simple system for airlines to prove that devices and WiFi won't interfere with their planes—one that looks at past tests instead of requiring a host of new ones. If the recommendations are approved, fliers would still have to use on-board WiFi to access the Internet—not due to safety concerns, but because the FCC bans airborne cell service. About 60% of commercial passenger planes are set up for WiFi, though the largest US inflight Internet provider says its service doesn't really work below 10,000 feet—so even though you may soon be allowed to read your Kindle during takeoff, you may not be able to download e-books at the time. (Read more e-readers stories.)