The ‘Giz’ tells us everything we need to know about flying with devices

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


4 comments for “The ‘Giz’ tells us everything we need to know about flying with devices

  1. Mel
    January 7, 2011 at 8:07 am

    Hi Giz
    Just FYI: Off and airplane mode are two different things. Off is off, pretty straight forward. Airplane mode is for cruise altitude. Off is for departure from the gate, taxi, takeoff and landing. It just doesn’t get any simpler. Your flight attendant was right!

  2. mark k
    January 7, 2011 at 8:44 am

    So whats the big problem? You just turn it off until an announcement is made that it is safe to turn it on again. Is that really so hard? Is it really that much of an inconvenience? Don’t you simply expect your kids and the people that you work with to also follow simple rules?

  3. mark k
    January 7, 2011 at 8:52 am

    And to the passenger who “magically” made the screen go dark, aren’t you the smart one! You must be a billionaire by now.

  4. January 7, 2011 at 8:09 pm

    Before my iPhone I had a new Sprint Something or Other. It would take 2 minutes for that thing to power off or on. I went back to Sprint and complained.

    They said “You shouldn’t be turning it on and off. What are you turning it off for anyway?”

    I explained I am a flight attendant, blah-bety blah blah blah.

    The ‘expert’ added “that’s what ‘airplane mode’ is for. You should only be power this phone off once a week if ever.”

    I hated that phone. ended up paying the early termination fee just to get out of the contract.

    Love love love my iPhone.

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