Flying with the New FAA Rules

 If you read my bio here on ProfHacker, you’ll see that I never go anywhere without USB cables or a novel. The latter has been especially important when I get on airplanes. We’ve written previously about how to hack your travel—by car or by plane. But it’s been difficult to be as productive as possible when you’ve had to turn your electronic devices off for big chunks of the flight. Hence, the need for a good novel to take up my time from the gate to 10,000 feet.

Last week, however, the FAA announced new regulations for personal electronics. Soon passengers on all domestic airlines will be able to use their devices from gate-to-gate. This means that you’ll “be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions.” Since you have to be able to hold these devices in your hands during take off and landing or put them in the seat-back pocket in front of you, however, you still cannot use laptops during take off and landing.

Even though the regulations are effective immediately, they will be implemented at various times by the different airlines. The FAA suggests that the process should be complete by the end of this year.

That being said, I’m pleased to report that the two flights I took this week on Delta allowed me to use any and all electronic devices that I wanted to throughout the flight. This was helpful as I was deep in the process of reading as I was prepping for the workshop I was going to lead at my destination. The ability to work from my tablet from take-off to landing was very much appreciated.

Almost as important on my flights, however, was the opportunity to listen to music throughout the trip. The two men next to me were, to say the least, talkative, and the infant across the aisle was, to say the least, unhappy. (As someone who has flown frequently with his family and kids of all ages, it’s worth saying that no one is as unhappy about a crying child as his or her parents.) But since I could put headphones in and listen to minimal Swedish house music the whole way through, I found myself feeling far more copacetic about the journey than I would have otherwise been.

In some ways, I suppose, it’s disappointing to lose one of the few places on earth when you weren’t allowed to be plugged in, when I was more or less forced to read that novel. But on the whole, I think the changes are incredibly welcome and will help me continue to be productive while traveling.

Have you been on a flight that allowed the use of electronic devices the whole way? What airline was it? What did you think? Let us know in the comments!

Lead image: Flying out of Las Vegas /

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