The FAA Could Relax In-Flight Device Rules Next Year

Proposed rule changes will reportedly land on the FAA's doorstep this week.

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Travelers who hate stowing away their e-readers and tablets during takeoff and landing might get some relief in 2014.

At least that’s what the New York Times reports, in a story on rule changes being proposed to the Federal Aviation Administration. After a two-month delay, an advisory group — consisting of airlines, electronics makers, pilots, flight attendants and avionics makers — will deliver its recommendations to the FAA this week. The FAA will then work on putting the policy in place, “perhaps by next year.”

The Times’ Jad Mouawad and Nick Bilton report:

The guidelines are expected to allow reading e-books or other publications, listening to podcasts, and watching videos, according to several of the panel’s members who requested anonymity because they could not comment on the recommendations. The ban on making phone calls, as well as sending and receiving e-mails and text messages or using Wi-Fi, is expected to remain in place, the panel members said.

Unless flight attendants are prepared to hover over everyone’s screens as they move through the cabin, I’m not sure how they’ll figure out whether people are e-mailing or not. Maybe they’ll just ask that people put their devices in “airplane mode” and hope for the best. The Times’ report doesn’t say how this kind of rule would be enforced.

In any case, we’ll probably see a lot more debate over the rules in the months ahead once the FAA has its recommendations in hand.