Unless you've been living under a rock, you may have probably heard of FAA relaxing their rules on the use of personal electronic gadgets. Is this the time to get your lightning USB cable and your throng of devices out and play Words with Friends (yes, thatâs an Alec Baldwin reference) with abandon?No. So, what is the FAA allowing, precisely? In summary, tablets, e-readers, smartphones, and other devices do not have to be turned off when the cabin door is closed until the plane reaches 10,000 feet. That means they are allowed to stay on already even before take-off and landing. But please, passengers should take note of the following:
* Data transfer is still not allowed. That means a passenger using a USB docking station may still be requested by a flight stewardess to stop using it during the flight. Actually, data transfer here means streaming, using of apps to download or upload data, among others. But then, a more loose definition of "data transfer" may still be implemented.
* Smaller devices such as tablets and smartphones would still need to operate on airplane mode. On the other hand, larger devices such as laptops should still only be used when the aircraft is above 10,000 feet.
* Activities allowed are reading e-books, listening to music, watching of videos, and playing of video games, as long as it doesn't involve data transfer, as mentioned earlier. But then, data transfer is allowed on larger planes, provided the WiFi connection is provided by the airplane, and not an LTE or 3G connection of the device. This means that data transfer can only be done on devices that are also provided by the airlines. Some airlines such as Qantas have provided tablets to passengers for their perusal.
* Not all airplanes and airlines allow PED use. They are still required to undergo safety assessment inspections by the FAA. So, don't be confused if a flight attendant still advises you to turn off your gadget, as they might not have gotten FAA approval yet. Even airlines that have secured FAA approval may not have all their airplanes cleared. For example, there may still be some Delta airplanes that aren't allowed to have passengers enjoy their PEDs in-flight. FAA approval is not applicable across all aircraft of an airline, and should not be understood to be applicable to all airlines.
* Wireless keyboards, USB docking stations and Bluetooth accessories are allowed, as long as they are operated once the airplane is already 10,000 above. Still a no-go during landing and take-off, as well s in some instances like low visibility, turbulence, and the like. Flight crews are still expected to instruct passengers to turn off their devices during these instances.
* Calls using smartphones are still not allowed at any times, except when the plane has already landed and is being taxied into a gate. Some international carriers do allow calls using mobile devices in some flights, although they still disallow this when a flight is within 250 miles of the