But while most industry groups and companies have praised the decision, not everyone is happy.
The new rule comes with a few caveats: Passengers must stow heavier electronic devices for takeoff and landing, as they can impede evacuation or injure passengers if there’s turbulence or an accident.
Passengers will also be required to turn off their devices during landing in “rare instances of low-visibility.” The FAA estimates this will happen on about 1% of flights.
And that’s what has upset the world’s biggest pilot union. In a statement, the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA), which represents nearly 50,000 pilots at American and Canadian airlines, said it “supports expanded inflight use of PEDs.”
But it “remain[s] concerned that relying on passengers to turn off their devices selectively in areas of extremely poor weather is not a practical solution.”
“We urge passengers,” ALPA wrote, “to realise the potential seriousness of using a device when any crewmember – pilot of flight attendant – advised them that it is unsafe to do so.”
In its list of “Top Things Passengers Should Know” about the rule change, the FAA said “Always follow crew instructions and immediately turn off your device if asked.”
ALPA is right to be worried that passengers will ignore instructions — we’ve been doing it for years. A March 2013 survey found that 30% of U.S. travellers have accidentally left a PED on during a flight when they were not supposed to.
Yet that protest almost certainly won’t be enough to stop airlines from pushing ahead with a rule change their customers overwhelmingly approve.
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