A much-anticipated decision from the Federal Aviation Administration on whether or not airline passengers should have to “turn off all electronic devices” when they fly has been delayed by the federal government shutdown.
At the tail end of September, an advisory panel sent FAA Administrator Michael P. Huerta recommendations that passengers be allowed to use hand-held devices, tablets and other personal electronic devices to listen to music, read, watch movies or play games even when planes are flying below 10,000 feet. Those altitudes currently are the forbidden zone, when the flight attendants caution that “everything with an on-off switch needs to be switched off.” The 28-member panel did not recommend that cellphone calls be permitted while in flight.
The FAA has recognized that times have changed, and there was general belief that Huerta would look favorably on most or all of the panel’s suggestions. But the man has been busy since the federal shutdown required furloughing 15,000 FAA workers.
“The FAA staff that would advise the administrator on this report, as well as work on the potential execution or implementation of the guidance, are furloughed,” said the FAA’s Kristie Greco. She said Huerta and his remaining staff were “Focusing their time during the shutdown on issues related to life and safety.”
So, for the time being, check your seat pocket for the lively reading to be found in your airlines in-flight magazine.