If all things go as planned, this year's holiday fliers won't have to turn off their smartphones at any point during their trip. The Federal Aviation Administration announced today that airlines can safely allow passengers to use portable electronic devices during all phases of flight. But first the competing companies must each submit plans to the government department detailing their plans to manage the electronics, and policies could potentially vary among each airline.
This decision comes soon after an investigatory panel consisting of representatives from airlines, passengers, pilots, mobile tech companies, and others recommended for restrictions to be loosened. The group concluded that most commercial airplanes could handle the limited radio interference signals emitted from portable electronics.
The change won't completely remove restrictions. Smartphones will need to be switched to airplane mode or have cell signal disabled, as in-flight Wi-Fi usage will be permitted. Yet voice communication remains banned, including VoIP. Still, passengers will be able to read ebooks and digital magazines during takeoff, or continue to fling birds at pigs as the plane comes in for landing.