FAA Lifts The Ban on iPads and Other Devices Making Business Travel Easier
Posted by Jen C. on Wednesday, November 6th, 2013
Business travel has come a long way. Now, with an FAA ruling, it may come even farther. Although it seems like such a small event, the FAA ruling to take the ban off of using certain electronic devices during takeoff can be a big move. Now that they have cleared certain devices, it may be a stepping stone to clear cell phones for flight (which the FCC would need to be involved with). With some flights now even offering WiFi, business will be able to be conducted from gate to gate. For us occasional travelers, it may not seem like a big deal, but for those who travel on a daily or weekly basis, that time on the tarmac, getting ready for take off, and descent can all be opportunities to get work done, especially if you’re traveling on an airline offering WiFi.
I remember business travel before WiFi, I could get some off line work done on my cross country flights, but everything that involved communication had to wait until I landed. I would land, quickly get to my hotel, and then play catch up with the hundreds of emails and voicemails that would be waiting. With WiFi on planes and restrictions being eased on using devices like tablets and e-readers during take-off and landing, we sure have come a long way.
Perhaps the FAA was feeling the pressure from passengers and government agencies, or perhaps they just realized that planes won’t fall out of the sky if everyone on them is using their e-reader or tablet. The public has known for some time that devices like iPads, e-readers, and phones (on airplane mode) have been completely safe, but it took a while for the FAA to make the ruling.
Are Cell Phone Calls Next?
The final step that would take business travel to the next level would be allowing passengers to make cell phone calls while in flight. However, it does present some challenges, mainly regarding the peace of the other passengers. There is nothing more annoying than sitting on a bus or in a restaurant and listening to the cell phone conversation occurring next to you. Just imagine being stuck in an enclosed space with hundreds of people talking on their cell phones. It could be maddening. It’s hard enough to contend with talkative seat mates or screaming babies, but now listening to everyone’s cell phone conversation?
There is also the issue of interference. In a series of trials (37 flights) done by Carnegie Mellon professor Jay Apt and his team in 2006, they found that signals emitted from cell phones could interfere with GPS. Although critics say that with the new models of cell phone, this wouldn’t be possible and there would be no interference, it is still an important topic. This was seven years ago and devices have changed by leaps and bounds. Even so, the FAA and FCC have to conclude that without a doubt there can be no interference on every device in order to raise the blanket ban.
When Will This Take Effect?
Although some airlines like Jet Blue are already jumping to get on board, it’s really up to the individual airline on how quickly they are going to adopt the new guidelines. Most will get on board in the new year.
Overall, this is a another way that airlines are making the skies a little more friendly for business travelers and those who love their devices.
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