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.

Source: FAA

Bertel King, Jr.
Born and raised in the rural South, Bertel knows what it's like to live without 4G LTE - or 3G, for that matter. The only things he likes sweeter than his tea are his gadgets, and while few objects burn more than a metal phone on a summer day, he prefers them that way anyway.

  • Brad

    Too bad airplane mode turns off wifi...

    • Scott Kennedy

      You can turn wifi back on without leaving airplane mode.

    • Chris Pick

      So turn WiFi back on.. At least on nexus devices.. Airplane mode kills everything.. But you can enable WiFi

    • Paul Leonard

      It's easy enough to turn wifi back on after you enable airplane mode.

      • Dheeraj Chowdary Nekkanti

        Dat launcher :D Aviate, huh?

        • Paul Leonard


    • Brad

      huh, never realized you could turn it back on... thanks

    • jase33

      Stock Sprint GS3 allows WiFi to be on with airplane mode enabled.

    • David Spivey

      If you or anyone here uses Tasker, you can use the Airplane Radios action to choose which radios (cell/gps/bluetooth/wifi) are turned off when Airplane mode is enabled. The setting stays through reboots, so if you choose to disable cell/gps/bluetooth but not wifi, your problem is solved when flying.

  • Derrick Hodges


  • Scott Kennedy

    This is great until 200 cell phones go flying through the cabin during an aborted take-off.

    Just because the FAA says it's safe to use the electronics doesn't mean the airlines are going to say it's safe for everyone to have a hard, blunt object out. There's a reason you have to stow everything for take-off.

    • David Belyea

      Cause people couldn't be holding their cell phone that was turned off anyways? Or any other hard object. Personally I'd rather have an phone hit me than a 1000pg hard cover book.

      • Robert Alex Kibler

        Exactly. It's been a couple years since the last time I've flown, but I recall everyone sitting with their iPads and Kindles in their laps waiting to be told they could turn it back on. Nobody actually turns them off anyway.

    • mesmorino

      On the other hand, I would say that if you're involved in an aborted take off, your concerns are probably more significant than blunt force trauma from a cellphone.

      Things like engine failure, fuel leak, and pressure drop spring to mind

    • Ian Santopietro


    • Justin W

      Ipods, laptops, etc. All of that stuff isn't a hard or blunt object that would be out during take off?

      Another thing - people carried their phones with them anyway.

  • Alphajoe

    Good news. I never really understood it. If my Kindle or my mobile could really make a plane crash, they would rather take this away from me instead of checking whether none of my cosmetics contains more than 100ml of liquids.

    Nevertheless, I appreciate that voice communication remains prohibited. Not for safety reasons, but for avoiding annoyingly chatting neighbours.

    • mesmorino

      They're pretty stupid about the the 100ml thing anyway, because the actual substance matters more than the quantity. 100ml of HF (aq) will fuck you up in a hurry, and you won't even know until at least several hours later.

    • Wyatt Neal

      Yea, I always never understood why they couldn't trust me with with a full can of soda while I was "allowed" to control the switch that could crash the plane.

    • suzu

      If I was right and my memory is still right, there was an aviation accidents occurred by signal interruption during landing from the inside of airplane. Hundreds of death. Since that, the electronic devices are banned during the take off and land

      • AD

        Neither you nor your memory are right.

        • http://www.LOVEanon.org/ Michael Oghia (Ogie)

          Or their grammar...

    • newyorker20103

      I don't know if that applies to anywhere outside of the U.S. (other than the American, United, Delta, Alaska, or any US-Orignated airline). But of course, you still can't bring any liquids over 3.4 US Oz (100 mL) but hey, everytime you are in it, they'll tell you "You MAY use your electronic devices but you must put them in Airplane Mode at all times, except when we are in the gate or taxing to the gate." However, that's the airlines's decision.

    • mma173
  • yahyoh

    LOL...i never turend off my phone in airplane :D

    • HopelesslyFaithful

      you are an idiot! Your carelessness is going to get someone killed!!! The Horrors!!!!

  • Hiway

    As an airline pilot my view is it all boiled down to liability. No one wanted to pay the money to get a device tested to be "safe" on an airplane. The government saw no real need to, which would include many agencies which also contributed to the red tape. You have the FAA, the FCC, and throw into the mix Homeland security even. Not to mention that device technology evolves so fast that even the manufacturer doesn't want to take the time or money to test a device because by the time it is approved then it's old tech.

    I personally think new standardization with the FCC to isolate signals helped push this along. I don't notice the chirping noise in my headset in the cockpit now like I used to. The main offenders seemed to be AT&T and T-Mobile using the SIM card technology or perhaps what bands they operated in.

    What fascinates me most by reading the comments is how many people admit to not following the rules willingly. Do you have proof your signal doesn't interfere with a ILS system used in weather to safely guide the plane is poor visibility? I highly suspect you don't. Sadly typical of our society. All about you with ZERO regard to others and the impact your choice has on other people. Now if it were you solo in a plane flying over unpopulated areas then knock yourself out. I personally don't care, but when you fully admit you "think" something doesn't interfere without a scrap of evidence or scientific knowledge then you need more help that can be provided by an online forum.

    To all the people now celebrating you don't have to turn off your phone yay now you can run down your batteries in one flight while your phone searches for signal. And to those who think you can maintain a signal with a cell phone tower moving at 500 miles an hour really might want to reinvest in some remedial education.

    • Sergio

      I believe the restriction had more to do with the fact that people would not pay attention to the flight attendants routine announcements and/or during emergencies which tend to happen more often during those phases of flight.

  • valapsp

    whenever I switched my phone to airplane mode the attendant told me to turn it off completely and i don't know why.

    • Cherokee4Life

      Yeah they always did to me too. The best was watching like teenage girls listening to their iPods and the Flight Attendant telling them to turn it off so they would try to hide it and act like they were turning it off but never realizing that they still had the earbuds in and it looked (and it was) like they were still listening. Oh the youth in our world these days.