FAA moving toward easing electronic device use

By Scott Mayerowitz

Associated Press

Published: Friday, June 21 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

"Unless the FAA is considering relaxing the rules on Wi-Fi access, this is not about making money. This is about keeping the passenger entertained," he said.

"It'll be nice not to have to power down and wait, but it never really bothered me. As long as they don't allow calls I'll be happy," said Ian Petchenik, 28, a Chicago-based consultant and frequent flier.

"If they change the rule, it would make my job a whole lot easier," said Heather Poole, a flight attendant for a major U.S. airline, blogger and author of the novel "Cruising Attitude."

Poole said there is a lot of pressure for airlines to have on-time departures. Flight attendants are dealing with an "out-of-control" carry-on bag situation and then have to spend their time enforcing the electronics rule.

"These days, it takes at least five reminders to get people to turn off their electronics, and even then, it doesn't always work," Poole said. "I think some passengers believe they're the only ones using their devices, but it's more like half the airplane doesn't want to turn it off."

Poole said her role as enforcer during boarding sets the tone of the rest of the flight.

"We take off, and everyone is left thinking about how miserable they are for the next four hours," she said.

On a recent flight that had really bad turbulence, a business class passenger wearing noise-canceling headphones missed the captain's announcement to stay seated.

"Takeoff and landing is when passengers need to be most aware of their surroundings in case — God forbid — we have to evacuate," Poole said. "I don't see that guy, or any of the ones like him, reacting very quickly."

Mayerowitz reported from New York.

Follow Joan Lowy on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/AP/_Joan_Lowy

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