Commercial airline passengers used to have to turn of their mobile devices before takeoff and landing, until a 2013 decision by the FAA finally allowed passengers to use mobile devices throughout entire flights. The freedom to play Angry Birds or tweet from takeoff was almost taken away by a 2014 lawsuit from the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA). That’s right, if an army of flight attendants had their way, we would all be sitting in silence and twiddling our thumbs during every takeoff and landing.
The group claimed that passengers were no longer paying attention to the highlight of their cabin duties, the pre-flight safety demonstrations. Although the location of the exit rows might change based on the type of plane passengers happen to be flying, the majority of airline safety rules tend to be the same. Frequent flyers are often bored and don’t pay attention to the in-aisle demonstrations, independent of whether they have a smartphone or tablet in their hands.
Additionally, the flight attendants’ union claimed that mobile devices could become dangerous projectiles in cases of turbulence. Also, the AFA accused the FAA of failing to follow standard protocol before changing its rules.
According to court documents obtained by Ars Technica, the court ruled that the FAA has the authority to change its rules at will; therefore, the flight attendants’ suit has no grounds. In a victory for mobile users, or a defeat for airline safety, passengers should now be free to game, text, and tweet in all phases of flight, provided that the airline has decent Wi-Fi.