British Airways are set to be the first European airline to allow you to use phones, tablets and e-readers during take-off and landing. Great news for business users who want to maximise their productivity during travel.
As long as you set your tech to airplane mode, you can now continue working during the entire flight. It was only October when the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) in the U.S. approved the use of tech during transition. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) followed quickly after with the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) quickly joining in. BA, being a primary business class carrier, allowed their flights to permit tech use throughout the flight from 19th December. BA were also first to allow, or at least, not censure, those of us who fired up our smart phones as soon as we landed and were on our way to the gate too. The theory that our electronic gadgets interfered with flight operations was always a tenuous one. As long as phones were set to airplane mode, they transmitted nothing that would interfere with what are highly shielded redundant system anyway. The continued insistence that we concentrate during take-off and landing always seemed a little silly. We are passengers, in the event of an incident, we are still passengers and are likely going at a speed that negates our being able to do anything whether we’re concentrating on work, staring out the window or staring at our white knuckles. We were always allowed to read the paper or a book during take-off and landing and reading on a Kindle or an iPhone is no different. “The easing of restrictions will provide an average of 30 minutes’ additional personal screen time,” said BA flight training manager Ian Pringle. “With around 300 people on a long-haul flight that will mean a combined total of approximately 150 hours’ extra viewing, reading or working.” It’s important to note that the lifting of restrictions does not include the use of mobile phones to make calls or audio devices that use headphones. According to the rules as they stand now, you still have to be able to receive emergency instructions should they become necessary. That means no music until you’re safely in the air. Despite no evidence to suggest our tech interfered with flight operations, BA had to provide evidence that our gadgets did not interfere with take-off and landing. Only once they had demonstrated to the CAA that it was safe did they secure permission to use it. EASA have also permitted in principle, the use of 3G and 4G during flight once the aircraft has reached 3000m altitude. It will be up to the airlines themselves to either allow or police this so our conversations don’t interfere with the other people in the aircraft. We say, good luck with that one!