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Stop Making Me Turn Off My Kindle

Dec 8, 2012

Stop Making Me Turn Off My Kindle

Why The FAA's Archaic Regulations on e-Readers, Tablets and Other Safe Personal Electronic Devices Make No Sense and Ought to Be Changed

UPDATE: Since publishing this blog post last December, the FAA agreed to review the rules for the use of certain electronic devices such as eReaders. (Don’t worry, they’re not considering allowing the use of cellphones.) They are meeting this week, in fact, to consider changes to their regulations. Please sign the petition to the left here to let them know that things like tablets and eReaders shouldn’t need to be turned off and put away during take off or landing any more than a physical book or a magazine. The trees will love us more for it.

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Okay, pet peeve time. On occasion I like to take a break from taking on the “big” issues and discuss something, well, a bit more esoteric. So here goes.

One of the most annoying things about flying these days is that pesky PA announcement telling us to turn off all electronic devices, including any readers and tablets. I suspect I’m not alone in feeling annoyed. No one has ever explained the point of regulation. I can only suspect it’s to force us to flip through the SkyMall Catalog of Totally Useless Expensive Things.

No one is served by this, least of all the poor airline attendants. Indeed, on my last flight I spoke with an overworked attendant. “Annie” (she didn’t want her full name used) confided that the rule truly is a “royal pain in the ass” for her. “Who wants to play the hall monitor, enforcing something that nobody likes or understands?” She actually has been called in and reprimanded by her supervisor after a passenger complained she made her shut off her Kindle, while a sneakier passenger was able to keep hers on. Good grief.

This regulation is all in the service of a “safety” issue that simply doesn’t exist. Studies have shown that devices like my Kindle don’t emit enough of anything to disturb cockpit function. The FCC knows this, and its Chairman has recently written a letter to the FAA recommending that electronic readers and other personal electronic devices be allowed at all times during flights including during take off and landing. This could easily fix half an hour or more of wasted time on each flight for each passenger. Happily, the FAA has stated it will review its policy, and I’d like them to hear from some real consumers.

So if you agree with the simple logic that we should be allowed to use eReaders throughout the flight to enjoy digital media (for example, my new digital book, “Oh Myyy”–available at the link to the right–see what I did there? LOL), please consider signing my petition here and help us send a message to the FAA in time to affect their new regs.

Happy Flying