Can I use the Kindle on the airplane when "electronic devices" must be turned off?

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One nice thing about books/magazines is that the airline attendant won't make you turn them off during takeoff and landing. With the wireless off, can I argue that my Kindle should be okay to keep on? I mean, how much worse is the Kindle from an interference standpoint than a digital watch?
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Thor

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  • hacking the system

Posted 8 years ago

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rodbegbie

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If I remember correctly, e-ink products don't use *any* charge when displaying data -- only when refreshing the screen. So it could be argued that you're using *less* power than a digital, or even analog, watch.
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Lane Becker

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according to this slate article, no, you cannot. it has to be stowed during takeoff and landing.
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Thor

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If we needed any more proof that airline policy is arbitrary and largely for show this is it. It speaks to a fundamentally anti-science worldview. Or maybe I'm just being crabby.
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John O'Day

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I don't think it's too much to be asked to sit quietly and stare out the window for the first twenty minutes of my flight.
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I have no problem being asked to do something for good reasons--just don't ask me to accept policies that are illogical and are to no one's benefit. There's a reason the airline industry is such a mess.
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quietmint

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I agree. I'm sure the Kindle poses absolutely zero harm if used during takeoff/landing, but actually getting away with it would probably be near impossible. The flight attendants are not going to understand Kindle when they try to arrest you for listening to music on your iPhone.
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You know, amazon has a kindle support line. It's even toll free. You can call them and I even bet they'll answer your questions.
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There has NEVER been an aircraft crash caused by a cell phone. As a matter of fact the internal electronics per FAA rules are shielded. This is, and always has been one of the dumbest rules on planes. My suggestion is use the book cover and treat it like a paper back. The RF from a Kindle is so low that even mice are not getting cancer - Ha.
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quepol

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As the flight attendants say, you have to turn off "anything with an on/off switch." It may be silly, but they will make you turn it off.
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Tim Connors

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i've used mine on a bunch of flights now. the flight attendants do make you turn it off for takeoff and landing
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Thomas

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It's almost impossible to tell them that your iPhone has an airline mode, they just don't wanna listen. But then, this thread is now leaning more toward airlines in general than amazon products like Kindle.
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Scott Fleckenstein

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I've flown around 10 times since I got my iphone, and I've never had a flight attendent bug me about it.
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Regardless of 'airplane' mode, the rule states that turning off music and computers has a lot to do with making sure everyone is paying attention. Take-off and landing are the most critical times during the flight. If a member of the flight crew needs to make an important announcement, he/she does not want to compete with Jay-Z for your attention.

As electronics become integrated to include phones, games, email and computing in a single device, the office is everywhere. The general flying public think of the plane as just one more place where I do business or leisure activities. But the runway is not Starbucks. And even with the litany of more alarming security concerns, keeping those electronics off while near the ground is still a part of safe flying.
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hendrymail

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Airline mode only means you can turn it on during the flight, but not during taxis or landing. You're advised to activate airplane mode before you turn off your phone so that when you turn it back on during the flight, it doesnt cause interference. Airplane mode has never meant that you dont have to turn it off during taxis or landing.
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Tim Connors

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so a breakthrough for the kindle. there was one other person with a kindle sitting next to me on two of my last four flights...a good sign.
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Ive been on about 12 flights since I got it, and I was only made to turn it off once...I tried arguin with the attendant, but she didn't much care.
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Thomas

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You should have asked for her name so that you could call and complain to customer service. I think that will either make her give it to you fearlessly, or reconsider her question, or call you a terrorist. My guess is she'd go for the final option in most cases, though.
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Thomas: asking for a flight attendant's information in order to call and complain to customer service about her because she was ensuring compliance with regulations is a threat on a crewmember. I would highly advise against it!!

Kaldan: Trying to "argue" with a flight attendant when asked to comply with a regulation is interferrence with the duties and procedures of a crewmember.

You're lucky she 'didn't much care'...because had she cared she could have had police escort you off the plane on breaking the following regulations:
1. Interrferrence with the duties and procedures of a crewmember.
2. Failure to comply with federal regulations.
3. Failure to comply with crew member instructions. (2 counts)
a) Announcement made to turn-off electronic devices.
b) Crewmember directly instructing you to turn-off electronic devices.
4. Intimidation of a crewmember since you admittedly "tried arguing" with the flight attendant.

You could have had a very bad day had the flight attendant cared. Fines and jail time...or a police escort off the plane at the very least and a report being filed of the incident. FYI there are airlines, despite bankruptcy, that will ban offenders of such violations...they're revenue is just not worth the hassle of their ignorance!
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derrick.dodson

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jo: In response to point 4...so now holding a different opinion and defending it is considered 'intimidation?' Thomas' suggestion of asking for the attendant's information so a complaint could be lodged *could* be considered *possibly* intimidating, but nothing in what Kaldan wrote here sounded in any way intimidating. Points 2 and 3 are given. Kaldan obviously failed to comply immediately, though I'm assuming compliance did ultimately occur. And point 1 I'm kind of iffy on. The case could be made that part of the flight attendant's 'duties' would be to make the reasons for their procedures clear. If someone blind or paralyzed were sitting in an exit row, the attendant would ask them to move. I can't imagine that if the passenger asked them why that the attendant would be justified in having them dragged off the plane for interfering with their duties and procedures. Heck, for that matter I doubt it would even be justifiable to charge them with failure to comply as long as they ultimately complied after being given some valid explanation. "Because I said so" isn't a valid explanation, by the way. Neither SHOULD be "because that's the rule." For many years "if you're black, you sit at the back of the bus" and "if you're a woman, you can't vote" were the law. Just because it's a rule or the law, it doesn't mean it's right or that we can't question it. In a free society the case could be made that it's actually our RESPONSIBILITY to question these things. Kaldan ultimately complied (I assume since no mention was made of being dragged off the plane), attendants explain how different aspects of the plane work regularly like the seat belts and flotation devices so I think that explaining why a Kindle would be a threat would actually BE their duty so the duty was performed rather than interfered with, and unless you have more proof of 'intimidation' than what was presented here no one was being intimidated except for Kaldan by you.
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Airlines have NEVER had a plane crash due to the use of an on-board electronic device - Never. Think about it. The air around the place is full of radio, TV, cell and microwave signals. The amount of high power transmitters used to communicate with the planes would amaze you.

The airline can do what they want. Will the device cause harm to the planes avionics? No! I read my Kindle all the time on the plane. When asked what it is, I tell them it is my book. So far that has been the end of it. I do turn off the cell feature to save power unless I order a new book.

Good luck.
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I think Chaser just answered the real question. You can turn off the cell feature, so it can be used on a plane, except during take-off and landing. They don't want you to turn on a flashlight during take-off and landing.

In the FAA and airlines defense, it's not that they believe that an on-board electronic device will likely cause a crash. But from their perspective it's better to say "Sorry you're being inconvienced by our paranoia." than to say "Sorry your friends and loved-ones were killed. But we didn't want to seem paranoid."
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Rock Star

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Hello all,

You can use you Kindle in Air planes but make sure you switch off the wireless. You can inform the airport authorities regarding the same and they will not oppose this as well.

Thanks!
Rock Star.
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Thomas

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I really don't see what authority you have to say "the airport authorities will not oppose this" when you're just some guy who can't button his shirt nor use his real name. As Maturin said, you can't even use a wristwatch during takeoff and landing.
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The FAA regulations regarding the usage of non-transmitting electronic devices has nothing to do with the devices possible impact on the aircraft's avionics. No such claim by the FAA has ever been made that an "approved electronic device," can interfere with the aircraft. The usage regulations stating that approved devices may be used after take-off, once above 10,000 ft and must be turned-off prior to landing, once descending through 10,000 ft is to keep potential projectiles to a minimum during critical phases of flight. Take-off and landing are critical phases of flight. Very few incidents occur during the inflight, cruising portion of flight, to keep people from using devices...hence why you are able to use the lav during flight: because there is no imminent danger of going belly-up. Kindles have to be turned-off and stowed just like people with handbags or laptops on their laps have to put them under their seat, because they are potential projectiles during critical phases of flight.

Tired of ignorance!
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rodbegbie

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So why are you allowed to have physical books, but not electronic ones? Seems like a hefty tome could cause as much physical damage, if not more, than an iPod or Kindle.
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The regulation that requires stowage of electronics is exactly that, an electronics regulation. Anything that can bounce around during a rough landing should be put away, even books and magazines—although they are not included in the electronics regulation. Therefore, unless preparing for an emergency landing, a flight attendant will not ask you to stow your book for a routine take-off or landing. I understand the Kindle is reading material, but the fact is, it is an electronic device and therefore is subject to the regulations regarding electronics.
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Dave

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According to the current FAA regulations for PEDs, it is specifically because of interference that they are prohibited AND it is up to the carrier to determine their policies.

Here's the relevant link: http://www.airweb.faa.gov/Regulatory_...

The reason that they say it is OK to use PEDs at cruising altitude has to do with the ability to determine which device is interfering in a situation that is less dangerous.

There is no mention about the electronic device becoming a projectile during take off.

Also, the reason that cell phones are banned across the board has more to do with the Federal Communication Commission having concerns that cell phone usage from an airplane would be disruptive to service in different operating areas due to the increased transmission potential.
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Eva Levine

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Well, it's true that the Kindle, with its wireless signal off, will not interfere in any way, shape or form with the aircraft's operation.
However, the flight attendant will not believe you when you tell him or her that. You can't really blame them - it's their job to enforce the rules. To be honest, sometimes I hide mine under my jacket until they go sit down for takeoff. Then I keep reading.
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motor1

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I had trouble convincing the flight attendant my Kindle was off!

I boarded a United flight this morning with my new Kindle 2 turned off (leather cover ordered separately, not yet arrived). I was holding the device in my lap prior to takeoff when the flight attendant saw Virginia Wolfe on the screen and told me to turn it off. I told him it was off. He threatened that if I did not comply he would have me removed from the plane. I explained it was e-ink and that it uses no power to display the image.

He returned with one of the pilots who looked at it. I showed her how it has a wireless feature and that it was off, and then turned the Kindle back off (which displayed another author!). She was still dubious and asked if I could take the battery out. I showed her the back which has no screws and explained taking the battery out would not clear he image anyway because it uses no power. I tried explaining e-ink again and she was evidentially satisfied enough to let me and my off Kindle stay on the flight!

I figured flight attendants would have been familiar with these devices by now.
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John O'Day

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why didn't you just put it away until you were flying?! you dickhead!!
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Thor

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Personally, I'm glad Motor1 gave the airline attendants a lesson in 21st century technology. The last thing we need is to be trapped by ignorance!
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motor1

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Although rude, John is right that if I had tucked the device into the seatback pocket, the attendant would never have seen it, and the exchange probable would not have happened. Accommodating someone else's ignorance at 5:25 AM is not my strong point, however.
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Vaibhav Gadodia

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Umm, you guys do realize that the Kindle can actually be "turned off". Just keep the slide switch in the off position for a few seconds and it clears off the screen and "turns off".
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Tim

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The mere idea that flight attendants are somehow endowed with the right to imprison us if agitated should give us all pause. While I do not go out of my way to break the "rules" of air travel, the notion that an iPod is more of a projectile than a book is ridiculous. And the notion that just because a bunch of bureaucrats say "this is how it is" we should not question it or complain about it is even more ludicrous.

I suppose if the flight attendant told you that you could not be aboard the plane because you wore yellow socks you would probably take them off... or because you wore a "Jesus" t-shirt you were removed from the plane as a terrorist threat you would just go along with it and say "those are the rules, shucks" just because it was clearly stated in section XXIV, paragraph 482 of some bill, that no one read before they passed it, that yellow socks was an unpardonable offense.

If we don't challenge the inane, archaic drivel that comes out of Washington and just accept what some glorified waitress says as gospel then we deserve what we get. As though not being allowed to use an iPod or Kindle will make us safer...

Some of you political apologists make me nauseous.
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Tracey West

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stop blaming it on the flight attendants! we dont make the rules, we dont like all of them, and most of us completely agree with all of you regarding the electronics! BUT until the FAA changes the law regarding electronics off and stowed for take off and landing, we have to 'ensure compliance'. (and I am a Kindle owner)
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Rita Androski

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Flight attendants are not waitresses. They are on the plane to ensure the safety of all passengers (including you). You are served a drink as a courtesy.
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Rita Androski

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Flight attendants are not waitresses. They are on the plane to ensure the safety of all passengers (including you). You are served a drink as a courtesy.
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Rita Androski

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Flight attendants are not waitresses. They are on the plane to ensure the safety of all passengers (including you). You are served a drink as a courtesy.
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Rita Androski

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Flight attendants are not waitresses. They are on the plane to ensure the safety of all passengers (including you). You are served a drink as a courtesy.
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Tim

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Rita, I love how you read thru my entire comment and picked out one phrase to complain about. Frankly, while they may be on the flight to ensure safety... they are actually glorified waitresses. If that offends you, I'm sorry... change the job description. However, regarding the law... it's stupid and needs to change. The nanny state must end or all of our freedoms will...
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Tim

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Rita, I love how you read thru my entire comment and picked out one phrase to complain about. Frankly, while they may be on the flight to ensure safety... they are actually glorified waitresses. If that offends you, I'm sorry... change the job description. However, regarding the law... it's stupid and needs to change. The nanny state must end or all of our freedoms will...
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Tim

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Rita, I love how you read thru my entire comment and picked out one phrase to complain about. Frankly, while they may be on the flight to ensure safety... they are actually glorified waitresses. If that offends you, I'm sorry... change the job description. However, regarding the law... it's stupid and needs to change. The nanny state must end or all of our freedoms will...
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Josh-D. S. Davis

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Tim, that's ridiculous. If a building catches fire, your waitress is the first one out the door. If the plane catches fire, your flight attendant is the LAST one out the door. The FA tries to comfort you with food and drink partly as a courtesy, and partly because hungry, thirsty people are more hazardous to the safety of others.

While turning off PEDs is a misunderstood concept by most, stowing items is not. If the plane collides with something, that iPod in your hand suddenly becomes a missile at whatever speed the plane was moving. You crack someone's head open, or whatever, and sure, you're so sorry about it, but the FA loses their job, goes to jail, etc just because you're stubborn.
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derrick.dodson

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Josh, I agree that an iPod, cell phone, laptop, or Kindle would be dangerous projectiles during some collision. But saying that PEDs would be dangerous projectiles and therefore must be turned off is ridiculous. Every flight attendant I've ever interacted with has asked me to torn off my phone, Kindle, etc. NOT to stow them. And as others have said, wouldn't a book or a Barbie doll be just as dangerous a projectile in a collision? If being a projectile is the problem, then EVERYTHING needs to be stored and being on or off is irrelevant. The focus on whether something is on or off means that either being a projectile is NOT a concern or that the law is completely arbitrary and therefore SHOULD be called into question.
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Troy Morvant

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You are absolutely correct..the rule is dumb and if the aircraft's avionics are so fragile that the use of a kindle can send it into a nose dive, then it shouldn't be in the air.
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Rita Androski

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Flight attendants are there to SAVE your ass, not kiss it.
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derrick.dodson

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Rita, how did this comment in any way imply that flight attendants should kiss anyone's ass? I don't blame flight attendants for the rules, but they ARE the face of the rules. They are the ones on the front lines enforcing them. They are going to have to deal with questions and challenges to the logic of those rules. Anyone who gets into the profession and expects anything else is either naive or an idiot. And if they aren't told this during training, their instructors are negligent or incompetent. I don't think any of those things are the case, so FAs should know this is what to expect. I'm sure garbage men don't like the fact that garbage stinks, but bitching about it won't change that fact. I'm NOT saying that FAs are garbage collectors, but even though FAs may not like the fact that passengers are demanding, will complaining about it really make any difference?
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Rita Androski

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If you cannot comply with flight crew instructions, then you should not fly.
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Tim

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If it were simply the flight crew or airline's instructions, it would be one thing. I would simply not fly that particular airline if I didn't agree with the regulations. However, the fact that it's the federal government making the rules in an arbitrary, non-sensical fashion in an attempt to "protect" us from ourselves makes me crazy. It's not the flight crew, necessarily, that I have a problem with... it's the law. That said, when the flight attendants get all upitty and act like the principal of an elementary school with the power to ban you from air travel... I also have a problem with that... because the law allows them to be that way.
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Josh-D. S. Davis

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Tim, the FAA doesn't make that rule, each airline does. See 14 CFR 91.21 and 121.306 for the formal regulation. It excludes an odd list of things (shavers, voice recorders, pacemakers) to imply non-transmitting devices, and leaves everything else up to the operator and/or the pilot in command.

Operators make more restricted rules, by suggestion, because it's cheaper (millions of dollars) than testing each device and much cheaper than being held liable for damages should an allowance be implicated in an incident or an accident. Boeing and a slew of others have tested and found very little general risk, but if you read AC 91.21-1B, you'll see rationale behind the recommendation, as well as docs references for the RF study.

As for Rita's comment, it's absolutely true. Regardless of whether it's the operator or the FAA, it is imperative to follow flight crew instructions unless it puts an immediate and bona fide hazard to you or others. This *is* a federal regulation and is to ensure the safety of all passengers.

One person failing to follow commands can and will lead to others not following commands. This sort of mob mentality is amplified in a confined space with an "us vs them" attitude and situation.

The average passenger is neither trained nor experienced enough to make sound judgments about what should or should not occur on a flight. Even trained crewmembers sometimes lack this level of judgement and simply 'follow the rules". That's OK, because these rules are made so that even blindly following them will keep people safe without undue hardship to others. No-one who's fit for flight will suffer grievously from 10 minutes of having your iPod turned off.

Problems with flight crew instructions, whether they are rational or not, should be taken up with the air carrier's management while on the ground. Usually they will stand behind their flight crew, but they WILL listen to calm, polite, rational requests. They will explain reasoning, and will escalate issues of concern where reasoning fails.

Ultimately, the crew is there to keep the passengers safe first, comfortable second, transported third. Ultimately, the operator is there to balance those requirements with the desire to make money. Work up a business plan that will justify the financial risk without decreasing safety, and the operator very seriously look into implementation requirements.
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derrick.dodson

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Rita, you've GOT to be kidding, right? I guess if Rosa Parks wasn't willing to sit quietly in the back of the bus, she should have just walked, right? The American revolutionaries weren't prepared to quietly keep paying unfair taxes to King George's government, but they should have just...what? Moved to some non-existent land that wasn't controlled by some colonial power? What would you have said to Susan B. Anthony? "Shut up and get back in the kitchen where you belong"??
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Aidan Boling

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That argument is fallacious on so many levels. These two situations are not even close to being the same. These rules are not discriminatory. Everyone has to follow them. Second of all, how on earth is not bitching about 10 minutes of sitting quietly or not being able to read your kindle, which again, are rules EVERYone is supposed to follow, even CLOSE to Rosa Parks just taking sitting back and taking a completely unfair, unreasonable, hate-driven rule? Or to women trying to get more rights, where again, they were fighting against inequality and unfairness? Or to paying unfair taxes, which could obviously affect your entire quality of life? As far as I know, sitting quietly for 10 minutes is not going to be harmful to you, either in the short term or the long term, mentally or physically.
Look, my point is not whether we should or should not object to rules that seem illogical and useless... I get that you aren't ok with sitting back and taking things just on principle, because being ok with one unreasonable thing just to avoid causing a fuss could lead to people getting away with more and more... My point, is that this is not the way to go about it. I'm all for having opinions, and wanting to make your point. But if you're going to try and defend your opinion, at least make your arguments good rational ones, instead of using extreme examples, that were only vaguely related to the matter in the first place... especially since you seem, in this particular case, to be objecting to the rules because they seem irrational or unreasonable, it seems like using more reasonable arguments to back your opinions up would get you a lot farther. Because in going with extremes, instead of sounding like someone with a legitimate objection to just being told what to do without a logical reason (that you can discern), you sound more like you're just raving, and it undermines your entire argument. Again, I am all for listening to logical, reasonable arguments, and I'm NOT saying that you ARE a raving extremist... I'm just saying arguments like this will make you sound like one.
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Jack Rice

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Aiden you're right. This is not a civil rights exercise but the practical issue using the Kindle on an airplane. I think it's pretty settled that it won't harm the aircraft, but it's also settled that after you point to "Off" on the Kindle window, the vast majority of flight attendants are OK with it.

Once again, the absurdity of the issue is that a Kindle is Off when the wireless is Off, and you can't turn the Kindle more Off than that. The Kindle is no more Off with the screen saver than it is with a page of text. Once again, it's not about civil rights but about the practical matter of using the kindle on board.

One explanation that might be persuasive is that after showing the "Off," tell the FA the text is no more "on" than an Etch a Sketch. It's the truth, and they might understand, that concept.

But as you say, regardless the merits, it shouldn't kill anyone to stow their Kindle for 10 minutes, and I certainly don't feel oppressed.
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drdvde

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Although Jo Malone is obviously a moron and thankfully hasn't been seen it awhile, this has been entertaining. Is anyone aware of a petition to the FAA regarding a rules (not law) change? My experience is that some crews enforce the rules, others don't. Most haven't.
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Jack Rice

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Yes, use it. And you are NOT creating a hazard. When it shows "Off" on the top, it is no longer an electronic device. If a flight attendant points to your page, tell her/him that it's liquid crystal and doesn't emit anything. Most cabin crew understand, when they see that the screen isn't lit. Also, most can read the word, "Off". Tell them it's as "off" as you can possibly make it. Be VERY polite about it, and they'll let it go. Works for me.

On the other hand, flight attendants shouldn't be expected to differentiate between "passive" eBooks, like Kindle, and others. So if they still want you to turn it "Off," then make the gesture of turning on the screen saver, which isn't turning it any more off than it is, but it may satisfy them.

Also, I like jo malone's 1st comment, that the issue isn't so much the electronics but that they want you attentive during take-off and landing. So, stowing your Kindle when requested becomes a matter of courtesy. You know, growing up.
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Josh-D. S. Davis

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So the OP is 3 years ago, but replies as recently as 4 months.

The restrictions for radios (such as cellphone transmitters) is an FCC issue, not an FAA issue.

The FAA regulations for electronic devices excludes "Portable voice recorders, hearing aids, heart pacemakers, electric shavers, or any other portable electronic device that the certificate holder has determined will not cause interference with the navigation or communication systems of the aircraft on which it is to be used."

However, the pilot in command is the final authority for everything and anything happening on the plane from the time it moves under its own power until it's parked at the gate. The pilot in command is bound by the operator's policy. The FAA suggestions for "determining" are through tests, which take time and cost money. As such, the de-facto is no electronics, and then the operators make exceptions.

The real issue is about distraction. The cockpit doesn't need them, and the flight crew doesn't need them. Video recorders and other complex devices have caused radio interference to the point of affecting VHF navigation signal reception, especially on older planes. Cellphones left on can cause buzzing in VHF communication radios. etc.

As such, rather than undergoing the problem of testing every new device on every type of plane to see if there will be any interference, the general policy is to restrict the use of electronics of any type during the critical phases of flight. That means, the portions of flight where a distraction has a higher likelihood of killing people, specifically taxi, take-off through 10,000 feet altitude, approach from 10,000 feet down through landing.

Past 10,000 feet, in the unlikely event that a device causes interference, there is plenty of time to identify it and correct the issue without worrying about hazards. It's also been tested and verified that wifi is generally safe on some types of aircraft, and as such, we're seeing wifi access on the ground and above 10,000 feet. Also, cell phone interference is low when near the voice transmission source, so cellphones during taxi to the gate are sometimes being allowed.

Ultimately, the pilot is in command, and the flight crew are his designees. Failure to follow directions is a serious issue. If there's a problem, sort it out after the flight, on the ground, outside of the plane, with the operator's management.

Causing a fuss during the flight is "interfering with duties", or trying to force them to concede to allow you to do what you want rather than what they're comfortable is not a matter of battle of constitutional rights. It's akin to hijacking and can really ruin your criminal record.

So, if the flight crew is being particularly draconian, make note of the flight number, time, date, basic description of the crewmember, and their name if you can get it without being intimidating (ie, don't sarcastically demand their name or employee number). Just make sure you do the same thing to report particularly good crewmembers from time to time as well.