According to the Wall Street Journal, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is currently – and finally – about to lift its antiquated 50-year-old ban on using electronic devices during plane take-offs and landings, citing improvements in modern technology unforeseen when the ban was initially put into place.
A part of the new rules under consideration, you would be able to use devices like a tablet computer or Kindle at all times during your flight. Smartphones would be OKed for use too, so long as they were set to airplane mode. The new rules would still ban making phone calls during flights, but it’s pretty darn rude to be yammering away on your phone in a crowded plane anyway.
The reasons for the rule change should seem pretty obvious: Many of the restrictions on using electronics during flights date back to the 1960s and are woefully outdated. There’s little danger to using your iPod or Nintendo 3DS during takeoff because neither actually emit the type of radio interference that might hamper operation of the aircraft. And, of course, there is the fact that many people simply ignore the rule as it is without consequence – the FAA report cites research that at least one in three travelers have accidentally left a phone turned on during an entire flight.
Before you go turning your devices on in-flight, though, a word of warning: The FAA has yet to complete its study, and has “granted a two-month extension to complete the additional work necessary for the safety assessment,” and you may better off leaving your tech devices at home rather than traveling with them. Still, it looks promising that one of the most antiquated safety rules in travel could finally come tumbling down just in time to plan this year’s holiday travel.