It was way back in March when word surfaced that the FAA was holding a study into the safety of allowing electronics use during takeoff on flights, and not too long ago that a decision was finally made, granting the freedom to do so with some contingencies on board. Fortunately for frequent fliers, it didn't take long for a couple airlines to get their ducks in order, with both Delta and JetBlue becoming the first to allow use.
The announcement was made today, and no doubt paves the way for additional carriers to open up the freedom for their own fliers. As mentioned, there are some limitations and rules regarding electronics usage during takeoff and landing, not the least of which is that applicable devices must be put into Airplane Mode, shutting off the device's mobile radios.
For now at least, passengers are free to use MP3 players, tablets, and smartphone throughout the entire flight -- meaning both takeoff and landing -- while Web-centric activities (downloading, online play, etc) will only be permissible under 10,000 feet in aircraft that have on-board wireless Internet. Any other devices, such as a full-mast laptop, will still need to be stowed below the seat or in the overhead bin during the beginning and end of the flights.
Making phone calls and sending text messages are still banned in flight, and the below-10,000 feet regulation changes won't affect GoGo, provider of WiFi in many aircraft, says Bloomberg. The reason is that the company's offering isn't designed to work below 10,000 feet, meaning even though the new regulations allow for Web use below 10,000 feet on certain flights, those that use GoGo as a provider won't see any change. The company is reportedly looking into whether it wants to update its networks to change this.