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FAA OKs Air Passengers Using Gadgets On Planes

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Christie Ileto joined WJZ's News Team in the fall of 2012. She was...
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ANNE ARUNDEL, Md. (WJZ) — Airline passengers can now stay plugged in throughout their air travel.

The FAA has now deemed the use of electronic devices safe during takeoff, changing its longtime policy.

Christie Ileto explains why the change is being made now.

Passengers can now listen to music and watch music videos on their cell phones or mobile devices without interruption, leaving some wondering why this is suddenly safe to do.

The FAA says staying connected during takeoff and landing is about to get easier.

“Airlines can safely expand passenger use of portable electronics during all phases of flight,” said FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

As long as devices are in airplane move, passengers can read, listen to music and watch videos.

But they still can’t make calls or send texts.

Until now, mobile devices couldn’t be used until planes rose above 10,000 feet.

“Why have it serious for so long and change now?” said passenger Amanda Lee.

The FAA has long claimed that using a device during takeoff posed a safety threat and interfered with air traffic communication.

“The committee determined that most commercial airlines can tolerate radio interference from portable electronic devices,” said Huerta.

There’s one exception to the rule: in cases with low visibility, passengers will be asked to turn their devices off.

Many passengers welcome the relaxed rule.

“I’ve always personally believed that it’s kind of silly that we couldn’t use our phones because it’s a localized circuit so it shouldn’t interrupt communication with the pilot, and I’m just happy to see that someone else agrees with me now,” said passenger Louise Brooks.

“I travel a lot and being able to travel and catch up on all my shows will be wonderful,” said passenger Vanessa Bowling.

Before airlines ease the once stiff rules, it will have to show the FAA that planes can withstand the interference.

Flight attendants won’t be policing the aisles to see if a device is in airplane mode, so it’s up to passengers to do their part.

According to the FAA, in rare instances of low-visibility, that occur about one percent of the time, flight crews will instruct passengers to turn off their devices.

It’s unclear how many airlines will start following the new FAA rule in time for the holiday travel season.

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