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Old 12-21-2011, 11:29 AM   #1
FJames
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E-reading on planes

As many of you will be traveling on planes with your e-reader over the holidays, you will undoubtedly discover the annoyance of not being allowed to read for an extended period around take-off and landing. The U.S. FAA has a blanket ban on all electronic devices from gate push-back to seat-belt sign off, and from about 10 minutes before landing until arrival at the gate. Most other countries follow the FAA's lead.

This is a better-safe-than-sorry policy which may have made sense originally, but its time has clearly passed. In the vast number of flights that happen every day around the world, there is not a single documented case ever of passenger electronic devices interfering with navigation, in spite of many investigations into cases where it was raised as a possibility for an unexplained problem. In fact research by the IEEE has shown that there are on average dozens of passenger electronic devices (including many active cell phones) left running throughout most flights. Not to mention of course the on-board entertainment electronics (now including WiFi), which are often left on during landing. It's all detectable by the special instruments the IEEE used, but apparently has never interfered with aircraft navigation. It's especially unlikely in the case of e-readers, which operate at very low power.

I guess the FAA's rationale for continuing the ban is that it's impossible to anticipate the range of consumer electronic devices that might be used and have never been tested, or that some of them might malfunction and emit unexpected interference. But the fact is that these devices are present and usually not fully turned off anyway. Maybe it's time to update an outdated policy.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:36 AM   #2
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I'd be more concerned about them changing their ball-grabbing policy before I worried about their gizmo usage policies.
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Old 12-21-2011, 11:41 AM   #3
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Yeah, I went to Florida last week (from Michigan) and found myself jealous of the people with their paperback novels that could read all throughout the flight.

And of course, I never turned off my ereader or my iPod touch. Just put them in sleep mode.
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Old 12-21-2011, 06:09 PM   #4
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Isn't that what the inflight magazine and the free newspapers are for?

Although recently I watched a guy who had his ereader, a text book (opened to a complicated diagram) and a note book all balanced on his lap. He read and wrote notes the entire time.
I can only assume the FAs didn't notice the ereader and just saw the text book and note book. Or else they took pity on him and allowed him to work/study in peace!

I'm pleased to report that we didn't crash!
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:21 PM   #5
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The policy about gizmos isn't about interference. It's about reducing the number of airborn, hard-edged projecties when the pilot screws up.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:32 PM   #6
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I doubt that turning off a device reduces its edge hardness. . .

And then there's also all those hardcover books they sell in the airport shops, can't turn those off.
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Old 12-21-2011, 08:55 PM   #7
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I don't travel much, and it's always for work, but when I do, I stick a magazine or skinny paperback in my bag for those take-off and landings.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:40 PM   #8
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The take off and landing portions of your flight are the most dangerous.

You don't read or play with toys, so you can be made aware of any situation that may develop.

I've flown a lot, and it's far better to have your gear stowed and be flicking through the flight magazine, paying half attention to the announcements than working out who the heck committed the murder in this last, gripping episode of Mr. Bob and the Bobbites while the flight spirals down to the ground and you sit there, fiddling, and not caring.
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Old 12-21-2011, 09:45 PM   #9
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I like to have my reader safely in its hard case for takeoff and landing. It doesn't take that long (not compared to the boredom of a four hour flight). Besides getting it out to read after we are airborne gives me something to do for a minute.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:20 AM   #10
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Well, if I were flying the plane I might be concerned about having my attention distracted by my e-reader (although I fail to see how it could be more distracting than a paper book). But considering how I'm sitting there strapped into a middle seat which is about 75% of the size need to accommodate a normal human being, I don't think my attention is likely to be an issue for the plane's take-off or landing.
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:25 AM   #11
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Their plane; their rules. If you don't like 'em, travel by some other means .
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Old 12-22-2011, 11:29 AM   #12
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I heard they are going to make an exception, but only if you are a famous actor and you are playing Words with Friends.

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Old 12-22-2011, 06:31 PM   #13
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Sounds like you're flying with the wrong airline. I've never been told to turn off my electronic devices outside of taking off or landing (not that I am a frequent flyer or anything but the airlines I have flown include Air Canada, Air France and ANA.
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Old 12-22-2011, 09:56 PM   #14
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Well, the off-time is from gate push-back to seat-belt sign off, and from about 10 minutes before landing until arrival at the gate. If that were a significant percentage of the total flight time, I'd be driving instead. Then I wouldn't be able to read anything.
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Old 12-22-2011, 10:43 PM   #15
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If they didn't have this rule, who would read their Sky Mall magazines?
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