FAA (Finally) Eases Restrictions on Gadgets — but You Still Can’t Bring Pool Cues on an Airplane

The overdue policy change can go into effect as soon as airlines are ready. Holiday flights home just got more bearable.

National Journal
Brian Resnick, Dustin Volz and Matt Berman
See more stories about...
Brian Resnick Dustin Volz Matt Berman
Oct. 31, 2013, 6:57 a.m.

Re­spond­ing to a fed­er­al ad­vis­ory com­mit­tee re­port is­sued last month, the Fed­er­al Avi­ation Ad­min­is­tra­tion an­nounced Thursday that it “can safely ex­pand pas­sen­ger use of Port­able Elec­tron­ic Devices (PEDs) dur­ing all phases of flight.” FAA Ad­min­is­trat­or Mi­chael Huerta said the agency is already work­ing with air­lines to im­ple­ment the long-stand­ing policy that has drawn ire from fli­ers for dec­ades.

When the over­due changes take place will de­pend on the air­line, but Delta is already out with a press re­lease say­ing that it’ll try to al­low pas­sen­gers to use their gad­gets as soon as to­mor­row.

The FAA policy was based more on cau­tion than hard facts. Ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, the reg­u­la­tions were put in­to place dur­ing the 1950s when FM trans­mit­ters ac­tu­ally could in­ter­fere with com­mu­nic­a­tions. But cur­rent air­craft have more-ad­vanced sys­tems. In 2006, a study found no evid­ence in either dir­ec­tion that con­sumer elec­tron­ics could cause a dis­rup­tion. “There was no evid­ence say­ing these devices can’t in­ter­fere with a plane, and there was no evid­ence say­ing that they can,” a FAA spokes­man told The Times in 2011.  The Times‘ tech colum­nist Nick Bilton has made a bit of a cru­sade of the mat­ter, even com­mis­sion­ing an in­de­pend­ent test of the elec­tric­al emis­sions of a Kindle. They were found to be “minus­cule.”

This is ob­vi­ously great news for Alec Bald­win and oth­er elec­tron­ic-ob­sess­ives. But air­planes aren’t just go­ing to be a free-for-all now that you can read your Kindle dur­ing takeoff. The FAA still pro­hib­its a huge list of items from en­ter­ing the plane. Some are plenty ob­vi­ous, like fire­arms, hand gren­ades and meat cleav­ers. Some are already ob­vi­ously an­noy­ing for fli­ers, such as li­quid re­stric­tions. Oth­ers are just a bit odd. You can’t bring pool cues, crick­et bats, cattle prods, kubat­ons (which are real things), vehicle airbags (???), and cer­tain snow globes (be­cause of the li­quid) on board.

Also, to the people now lament­ing that this will bring the end to the tech-sab­bath refuge of the fu­sel­age — be as­sured not much will really change. People were al­ways al­lowed to use elec­tron­ics after takeoff, and cell phones still can­not be used to make calls in the air. Also, no cit­izen of the civ­il­ized world should ever use elec­tron­ic devices without head­phones on pub­lic trans­port­a­tion. The only dif­fer­ence now is that you can con­tin­ue us­ing your laptop or iPad dur­ing takeoff. So please, at­tempt to work through the some­times start­ling changes in G-forces as the plane ac­cel­er­ates down the run­way.

Al­though, we can all agree that a par­tic­u­larly ne­far­i­ous snow globe poses more of a pub­lic-safety threat than an e-read­er ever did.

What We're Following See More »
STEPHANIE RAWLINGS-BLAKE TO FILL IN
Wasserman Schultz Won’t Gavel Open the Convention
12 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Debbie Wasserman Schultz has given up her last remaining duty at this week's convention. Now, she's told her hometown newspaper, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, that she will not gavel in the convention today. Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake will do the honors instead. "I have decided that in the interest of making sure that we can start the Democratic convention on a high note that I am not going to gavel in the convention," Wasserman Schultz said.

Source:
SUPPORTERS’ RALLY
Sanders Supporters Boo When He Mentions Clinton-Kaine
43 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps this talk of unity has been overstated. Addressing a room full of his supporters today, Bernie Sanders heard "sustained boos" when he said he said it was essential that we elect Hillary Clinton and Tim Kaine.

Source:
ALL EYES ON RUSSIANS
FBI Investigating DNC Hack
58 minutes ago
THE LATEST

The FBI this morning issued a statement saying it is "investigating a cyber intrusion involving the DNC," adding that "a compromise of this nature is something we take very seriously." Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton's campaign is suggesting that the hack "was committed by Russia to benefit Donald Trump."

Source:
NEED 300 DELEGATE SIGNATURES
Sanders Delegates Threaten to Challenge Kaine Pick
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

A group of delegates loyal to Bernie Sanders is actively exploring how to challenge Tim Kaine's nomination for the vice presidency. A lead of the group "said he hoped the Democratic National Committee releases information within hours on how to submit a challenger to Kaine, which he said would require the signatures of 300 delegates. He said they have until Wednesday morning to file a challenge to Kaine and stressed that while his group would take any requests from the Sanders campaign under consideration, the delegate group is an independent organization."

Source:
JOHNSON PULLING 26%
A Three-Way Race in Utah?
1 hours ago
THE DETAILS

Here are some more numbers out of Utah that should frighten Donald Trump—and give hope to Gary Johnson. "An internal poll conducted for Rep. Mia Love two weeks ago found Trump at 29 percent, Clinton at 27 percent" and Libertarian candidate Johnson at 26 percent. "That was, however, before Trump picked Indiana Gov. Mike Pence." Utah party chairman James Evans said that move ought to clinch the state for Trump. "Utahns are going to come through because the level of distaste for Hillary is so deep," he said.

Source:
×