Good news, gadget users: You may soon be able to use your electronics on planes for longer periods of time.
According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Aviation Administration is looking to ease its restrictions that bar passengers from only using certain types of electronics devices during allotted intervals on flights.
However, the eased regulations will likely apply only to specific gadgets, and, as the WSJ report notes, full use of mobile phones will probably still be prohibited.
The FAA first announced that it would reevaluate its ban on gadgets last year and assembled a panel of experts to conduct a formal review in August. At the time, the announcement was met with much with fanfare from gadget users, but some warned that frequent flyers shouldn't get their hopes up, since the implementation would likely take a considerable amount of time.
As New York Times columnist Nick Bilton indicated in September: "The current system of testing electronics devices will most likely have to change before gadgets can be used during takeoff and landing. The agency’s rules state that an airline must test each iteration of a device on each type of plane, without passengers, before it can be approved."
Given the rapid pace at which new models of devices are introduced, the sheer number of tests that would have to be conducted would, in and of itself, be a cause for delay. The FAA also announced Friday that the panel of experts will not release its final recommendation until late September, according to Reuters.
Currently, the FAA allows passengers to turn on certain devices, such tablets and music players, after take-off once the airplane reaches a cruising altitude of 10,000 feet. While there is little conclusive proof that personal electronic devices negatively interfere with a plane's instrument panel and navigation system, the FAA has nonetheless imposed the heavy-handed restrictions as a precaution.
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Guns (821 Of Them!)
Let's start with guns, because there're just so damn many of them. The TSA reports that it's confiscated 821 firearms in 2012 to date (691 of which were loaded). Some were stowed away in creative places, like in <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-portland-passenger.html" target="_hplink">a potted plant</a> or <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/09/gun-parts-found-hidden-in-stuffed-animals_n_1502545.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">inside stuffed animals</a>. Poor Mickey Mouse!
Batman Throwing Stars
Everyone knows that the Batman has his own plane and doesn't need to fly commercial. This faker, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">caught in San Diego in June</a>, is not Bruce Wayne.
The crazy thing about this story wasn't what was stopped from going on a plane, but why. A mother of a 9-month-old was told she <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/amy-strand-breast-milk_n_1317058.html?utm_hp_ref=tsa" target="_hplink">couldn't board her plane</a> in Hawaii in February with her breast pump. The reason? Because the milk bottles were empty, <a href="http://www.kitv.com/KITV4-Exclusive-TSA-Admits-Breast-Pump-Mistake/-/8906042/9658158/-/qpck62/-/index.html#ixzz1nz9Acm95" target="_hplink">KITV reported</a>. The woman embarrassingly had to go to the bathroom to fill the bottles with milk, and the TSA later had to issue an apology.
Knife Mounted On Walker
Don't mess with this grandpa, <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/05/tsa-week-in-review-plastic-dagger-found.html" target="_hplink">who tried flying out of JFK</a>.
Fortunately this weapon had no grenades in it <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-fantasy-knives-and.html" target="_hplink">when confiscated in February in Seattle</a>.
In Texas, they don't mess around with fake grenades. Officials at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport found <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/tsa-week-in-review-thousands-of-ecstasy.html" target="_hplink">a live 40mm explosive grenade in one man's luggage</a>. The guy actually had a good excuse. "It was a soldier who made a mistake and in the end, no charges were filed," the TSA explained.
The curious part of this story is that you <em>can</em> fly with a chainsaw, if it's in your checked luggage. But this guy traveling out of Elmira, NY, still had gas in his wood-cutter <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">when he attempted to get it onto a plane</a> in January.
This was confiscated at North Carolina's Raleigh-Durham International Airport.
Cellphone Stun Gun
The TSA finds plenty of stun guns, but this one, masked as a cellphone and uncovered by officials in Indianapolis in June, takes the cake. Insert your "there's an app for that" joke here.
An X-ray screening in Philadelphia International Airport reveals one passenger trying to carry on <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/03/good-catch-explosives-discovered-in.html" target="_hplink">three M-80 fireworks</a>, along with "a water bottle wrapped in black electrical tape and filled with flash powder." Unsurprisingly, the man was arrested.
Regret that useless souvenir you got on your last vacation? <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/02/tsa-week-in-review-coral-covered.html" target="_hplink">Meet this diver</a> who found an 18th-century, coral-covered cannonball while exploring a ship near Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. The TSA determined that the projectile was still potentially explosive even after centuries underwater, and had to evacuate the checked baggage area and call in a bomb squad.
These stuckers were taken <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">by officiers in Salt Lake City, Utah</a>.
What's in the water in Dallas? An old bazooka round was found in a passenger's bag at the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport. "Not knowing if this was live or inert, Law Enforcement Officers established a 100-foot perimeter around the item and evacuated the baggage area and terminals near the item," <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-bazooka-round.html" target="_hplink">the TSA wrote</a>. Five delayed flights later, it was determined to be not live.
Obviously, this is scary. <a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/06/tsa-week-in-review-inert-detonator.html" target="_hplink">In Harrisburg, PA, in June</a>, a passenger "had been at a conference where the items were given out as souvenirs."
<a href="http://blog.tsa.gov/2012/01/tsa-week-in-review-gassed-up-chainsaw.html" target="_hplink">Found in San Diego in January</a>.