Delta and Jetblue plan to move fast to allow iPhones, Kindles and other devices at all altitudes

JetBlue Airways and Delta Air Lines are wasting no time ensuring that passengers will soon be able to use their electronic devices in all stages of flight.

JetBlue could be first, with an airline spokeswoman telling me it could be as quickly as this afternoon. “JetBlue will allow the use of PEDs as quickly as we receive approval from the FAA,” spokeswoman Sharon Jones said.

Delta, too, is moving quickly, though it may not be ready until Friday. Here’s what Delta officials have to say:

 Delta Air Lines is ready to allow its customers to be the first to use their portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet as early as Nov. 1, 2013 pending Federal Aviation Administration approval. All Delta aircraft have completed carrier-defined PED tolerance testing to ensure the safe operation of passenger portable electronic devices during all phases of flight and Delta’s plan has been submitted to the FAA for approval.

As I reported earlier this morning, the Federal Aviation Administration will allow airlines to set their own rules regarding whether passengers can use iPads, iPhones, Kindles and other similar devices during the entire flight, including takeoff and landing. The airlines will have to prove to the FAA that that the devices will not conflict with flight operations.(Currently, devices must be shut off at altitudes lower than 10,000 feet.)

Even under the new system, customers will not be able to make calls or use their phones to transmit data on any airline. So “airplane mode” will still be useful.

Like a lot of customers, I’m impressed that JetBlue and Delta are moving so fast on this. But I imagine that all airlines will move relatively quickly. There’s no reason for them to be at a competitive disadvantage.

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FAA will allow iPads, Kindles and other devices in all stages of flight


About a half a century after federal regulators put in place a ban on electronic devices during some phases of flight, the the Federal Aviation Administration is ready to considerably loosen restrictions.

Pretty much everything will be fair game during all phases of flight soon, with the exception of cell phones. According to the New York Times, those are the domain of the Federal Communications Commission.

There’s a slight catch, but it sounds like it won’t be a problem. Airlines will have to prove to the FAA that items like Kindles, ipads and other tablets won’t interfere with flight.

A 28-member committee, filled with airline and communications industry officials, had recommended the change in September.

“We found that we could protect aviation safety and at the same time address the passenger desire for use of their portable devices,” FAA Administrator Michael Huerta told reporters, according to USA Today. “The committee determined that most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices.”

Electronic devices have long been allowed when an airplane is higher than 10,000 feet. But this change should allow to play with their machines even during landing and takeoff, as long as they are not transmitting.  (Of course, a lot of people have been surreptitiously doing that for years, but that’s another story.)

According to an FAA statement referenced in the Chicago Tribune: “The agency expects many carriers will prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate, by the end of the year.”


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