Back in June the committee formed to make a recommendation on use of electronics inflight below 10,000 feet asked for more time. Now that committee is expected to deliver its report this week.
They are expected to recommend the restrictions be lifted, which in turn could lead to the FAA removing the requirement to turn off electronic devices for takeoff and landing soemtime in 2014.
This will not mean inflight internet below 10,000 feet. That restriction is not under review. Passengers will be able to fire up their e-readers, have their phones on in airplane model, and watch movies or use their laptops though.
This will not mean inflight use of cell phones. FCC restriction against that will remain in place. People almost universally hate the idea of passengers gabbing away on their cell phones, though the thought of it never much bothered me.
- Seat back phones were commonplace for years (though sufficiently cost prohibitive that they weren’t widely used).
- Amtrak manages to offer quiet cars and seating allowing use of phones. Passengers in confined spaces there talk without causing too much of a disruption. Airlines could even charge a premium (waived for elites!) for so-called cell phone-free zones in coach.
Nonetheless, we’re potentially on the cusp of real progress that is meaningful not just for passenger entertainment but economic productivity.