The tragic 15 to 20 minutes of time during flights when no digital devices are allowed may soon be a thing of the past, The New York Times reports.
The Federal Aviation Administration is planning to change its rules on the use of electronic devices on airplanes, according to The Times. Changes may go into effect as soon as next year.
The new rules will allow plane passengers to use devices to read, listen to music and watch videos while the plane is taking off and landing, the paper's Jad Mouawad and Nick Bilton report. Bilton has been doggedly covering the FAA's archaic rules regarding electronics.
"We think the FAA has been too cautious in rethinking common-sense modifications to the policy, so this is a long time coming," professor Joseph P. Schwieterman of DePaul University told The Huffington Post in a phone interview Monday. Schwieterman is a co-author of a study on the FAA's ban on technology use on planes. The study revealed that those who fly were unable to use their electronics for more than 100 million hours in 2013 because of the current rules.
"Consumers are increasingly demanding answers as to why the policy never seems to change, why it never gets modified in response to the changing times," Schwieterman told HuffPost. "I think that's what they're doing now."
While travelers will be able to use their devices for some functions, they still won't be allowed to make or receive calls, text or use Wi-Fi, anonymous members of the FAA advisory panel told The Times. As the rules currently stand, all electronic devices must be turned off while the plane is taking off or landing.
Despite what you may have thought, the reason electronic devices are not allowed during takeoff and landing isn't because they could interfere with the pilot's controls. They aren't powerful enough to do that, The Times reports. In reality, the FAA requires airlines to conduct tests to prove that any device allowed for use is safe -- but since there are so many different phones, tablets and laptops coming out every year, it's been easier just to ban them altogether.
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>.