Flight Attendants Union Challenges FAA Decision Allowing Passengers to Use Electronics in All Phases of Flight

The Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) launched a lawsuit against the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last Friday in protest over the FAA's decision to allow passengers to use their iPads, iPhones, and other small portable electronic devices in nearly all phases of flight.

As outlined by the Associated Press (via TechCrunch), the lawsuit alleges that the FAA "acted improperly" and failed to follow proper protocol implementing the changes. A lawyer for the Association of Flight Attendants argued that portable electronic devices distract passengers from safety announcements and can "become dangerous projectiles."

Dure argued that in greenlighting the expanded use of electronics, officials violated the federal Administrative Procedure Act. The act requires government agencies to give the public notice and the ability to comment when a rule is changed. That didn't happen properly, the union argues.
FAA lawyer Jeffrey Sandberg responded to the AFA's allegations by suggesting portable electronic devices are "no more dangerous" than the books passengers have been allowed to keep out during landing and takeoff. The government agency also suggested that the policy change did not trigger the requirements for public notice.

Officially implemented in October of 2013, the FAA's policy change on portable electronic devices allows smaller electronics, like iPhones and iPads, to be used during all phases of flight. Prior to the rule change, all electronics were required to be stowed away until an altitude of 10,000 feet was reached.

Though devices can now be used during landing and takeoff, passengers are still required to place them into airplane mode, restricting cellular access. Usage of larger devices, like laptop computers, continues to be restricted for safety reasons.

While the FAA enacted the policy change that allows passengers to use their devices in all phases of flight, airlines have always had control over the implementation of the rule. Individual airlines, as the FAA points out, have control over when and if passengers are able to use their electronic devices in flight. A judge hearing the case expressed a similar sentiment, telling the AFA that "Airlines have always had discretion on how to handle this."

Thus far, the FAA has cleared 31 airline operators to allow passengers to use portable electronics during landing/takeoff and combined, those operators carry 96 percent of all U.S. commercial passengers.

Top Rated Comments

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69 months ago

This doesn't even make sense... Few really listened to the safety briefing anyway. Many people read a magazine or even SkyMall. Device or not if you want to pay attention you can. If you don't want to listen you're not going to.
Rating: 54 Votes
69 months ago
Couldn't my device still become a "dangerous projectile" even if it were turned off?
Rating: 47 Votes
69 months ago

Why do flight attendants care anyway?

They care because flight attendants bear some responsibility for the safety of the aircraft. If you are messing around on your iPhone or iPad then you are not paying attention to the safety announcements at the beginning of the flight, nor are you paying attention to any unexpected behaviour of the airplane during landing.

I just can't understand how it is so hard for somebody to stow away their gadgets for the first and last 10-15 minutes of the flight.
Rating: 33 Votes
69 months ago
Another fantastic Apple rumor.
Rating: 28 Votes
69 months ago

This doesn't even make sense... Few really listened to the safety briefing anyway. Many people read a magazine or even SkyMall. Device or not if you want to pay attention you can. If you don't want to listen you're not going to.

They obviously just want to force passengers back into reading SkyMall during landing and takeoff. Sales must be down.
Rating: 27 Votes
69 months ago
How many times do we have to listen to the safety brief? do they think we are stupid and didn't listen the first few times we flew?
Rating: 20 Votes
69 months ago
It is *not* just about the safety briefing.

What if something does go wrong during takeoff or landing - the most common time for something to go wrong?

Will you pay attention if you are engrossed in your cocooned personal world?

Of course, some idiot is always going to walk into a manhole or off the edge of a cliff because they are not paying attention while staring at a little screen, but we can't help those people. We can try to make sure that people are alert and paying attention to any instructions or information during takeoff and landing.

Plus, it is just plain rude. The flight crew is going to come though and make sure everybody has their seat belts on, for example. They should not have to take the extra time to get your attention for that or any other purpose.
Rating: 16 Votes
69 months ago
"NO! you can't have your 20 minutes of freedom!"
Rating: 16 Votes
69 months ago
Why do flight attendants care anyway? Do they really thrive on the additional task of continually telling passengers to put away their devices or put in airplane mode?
Rating: 15 Votes
69 months ago
Yeah, I don't get it either. A projectile is a projectile, electronic or not. That argument makes no sense. I kind-of-sort-of accepted the 'it might interfere with the navigation equipment' argument... but that was shot to hell when airlines started offering paid WiFi. Um, no, sorry, why is WiFi suddenly SAFE just because I'm paying you for it?

I really think this is one of those rules that's been around so long, no one wants to admit it was stupid in the first place, so no one wants to be the one to admit it needs changing.
Rating: 13 Votes

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