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FAA To Allow Air Passengers To Use Gadgets On Planes

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO/AP) – Government safety rules are changing to let airline passengers use most electronic devices from gate-to-gate. The change will let passengers read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music.

The Federal Aviation Administration’s new rule on using iPads and other electronic devices on planes is getting a thumbs-up from air travel experts. Air travel analyst Terry Trippler says it’s smart customer service.

“I think it will improve customer morale to a great extent — and it won’t cost the airline a penny,” said Trippler.

The FAA says airlines can allow passengers to use the devices during takeoffs and landings on planes that meet certain criteria for protecting aircraft systems from electronic interference.

“It’s about time,” said Carl Gustafson of Minneapolis. “I mean we live our social lives and our work lives connected to our phones, computers.”

Most new airliners are expected to meet the criteria, but changes won’t happen immediately. Timing will depend upon the airline. Delta announced they’re ready to go as soon as Nov. 1.

Airlines will have to show the FAA how their airplanes meet the new guidelines and that they’ve updating their flight crew training manuals and rules for stowing devices to reflect the new guidelines.

Connections to the Internet to surf, exchange emails, text or download data will still be prohibited below 10,000 feet. Heavier devices like laptops will have to be stowed. Passengers will be told to switch their smartphones, tablets and other devices to airplane mode.

And the ban on cellphone calls will continue. A travel industry insider told WCCO’s Nina Moini that this decision is mostly because people talking on phones and being loud would make for an uncomfortable flight for other passengers.

A travel industry group welcomed the changes, calling them common-sense accommodations for a traveling public now bristling with technology. “We’re pleased the FAA recognizes that an enjoyable passenger experience is not incompatible with safety and security,” said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

(TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved.This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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