Giz Explains: How To Fix the Airlines’ Stupid Portable Gadget Rules
If you’ve flown lately, you have probably noticed that the “portable electronics” rules are increasingly muddled. It’s time for the FAA and airlines to lift the electronics ban completely, or rewrite it to reflect modern gadgets.
The first problem is, nearly all electronics are lumped together, despite differences in their innards and the services they perform. The second problem is this constant generic request to turn them “off.” Until airlines can speak coherently about ebooks, smartphones, tablets and other traveler-friendly gadgets—and address the various states of rest between “on” and “off”—the system remains in a sphere of stupidity. Whether this is mildly annoying or potentially deadly remains to be seen.
The last time I flew, I had in my carry-on bag three cameras, three gaming laptops (you can choose 1 from here if you’re looking for one), a smartphone and a classic iPod. Judging from the long security lines, I wasn’t the only one trucking plentiful gadgetry.
When I got on the plane, the flight attendant asked everyone to turn “off” phones and other portable electronics. She appeared at my side as I was switching my iPhone to airplane mode and repeated, “It’s time to turn off your portable electronics.” I replied, “That’s what I’m doing.” She sneered like a 1930s copper who’d just collared the dumbest guy in the bootlegging operation: “So flipping through screens is how you turn it off? There’s no on-off switch on the side?” She thought she’d caught me in a lie. I just looked back in disbelief, made the screen magically go dark, and put my supposedly “off” phone back in my pocket, satisfying whatever interpretation of the rules was in this poor misinformed woman’s head.
On another leg of our journey, just before takeoff, a flight attendant pointed to the ebook reader my wife was using and said in a stern voice, “Please turn off all portable electronics.” She did not ask the gentleman seated next to us to turn off his digital watch, though it may well have been drawing more power at the time….. continued
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