Remember how pleased frequent travelers were late last year when the Federal Aviation Administration finally started allowing airline passengers to use their personal electronic devices during takeoff and landing? Well, it turns out there’s one group of people who aren’t very happy with the change, and are now trying to get the ban on smartphones and tablets put back in place. Flight attendants have taken the FAA to the U.S. Court of Appeals with their main concern being the issue of safety.
The 60,000-member flight attendants union is arguing on legal grounds that the FAA did not follow standard procedure when making the change in policy, such as making a proposal to the public and allowing sufficient time for criticism and feedback. The FAA has countered that it did in fact receive responses from the public, but that is beside the point, as the final decision on the matter is actually made by the airlines.
The real issue at hand though isn’t about how the change was made or who made the decision, it’s that flight attendants feel there is a real threat to safety when passengers continue using their mobile devices during a plane’s takeoff and landing. They say that it’s become obvious passengers no longer listen to the safety instructions given when leaving the gate, and, to a lesser extent, that larger devices such as tablets could become dangerous projectiles during turbulence.
Should the appeal judges side with the FAA, flight attendants will have no legal ground to force passengers to listen to their safety demonstrations, they will simply have to continue in front of people who may be paying no attention. But lawyers for the union say they have already proposed a compromise that flight attendants would be happy with, which is requiring that devices still be put away during takeoff, however they can remain powered on and in airplane mode.