THE EUROPEAN Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has said that passengers can now play with their tablets, mobile phones, laptops and various personal entertainment devices (PEDs) for the duration of flights, and can make phone calls.
Traditionally passengers have been asked to put their devices into airplane mode as soon as they enter airplanes, but this is no more. EASA said that no one needs to go into airplane mode, and that depending on the airline, could pretty much run rampant on their hardware for the duration.
Airplane mode, for the un-earpopped among us, is a way of turning your hardware dumb by stripping it of connectivity. Putting it into the on position puts passengers into a no communications zone. Dropping its requirement, says EASA, is part of plans to blanket passengers with WiFi coverage throughout their trip.
"The new guidance allows airlines to permit PEDs to stay switched on, without the need to be in 'Airplane Mode'. This is the latest regulatory step towards enabling the ability to offer 'gate-to-gate' telecommunication or WiFi services," it said.
"PEDs include any kind of electronic device brought on board the aircraft by a passenger such as smartphone, tablet, laptop, e-reader, MP3 player."
Fret not, regular traveller. You will not, at least for now, always have to endure a flight sitting next to someone who is bragging about some meeting in which they ran something up a flagpole, and you will not always have to listen as someone else tells someone else a story in which every sentence rises at the end like a question.
Whether calls are permitted and what personal devices can be used will be up to the airline and dependent on the equipment they have on board. Choose wisely, flyer. µ
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