Hang in there, airline passengers. There may be a small perk coming your way in the future.
The Federal Aviation Administration said this week that it wants to bring together "key stakeholders" to discuss if there are practical ways to test electronic devices to see if they are safe to use during "critical" phases of flight (aren't they all critical?).
In other words, passengers may be able to use music players, e-readers or electronic tablets on flights, even during takeoff and landing. It's not much, but considering airline passengers seem to be losing more and more freedoms aboard airliners these days, we'll take it.
We've all heard the same rehearsed speech before and during every flight. We're told that, in compliance with FAA?rules, all electronic devices must be turned off while the aircraft is below 10,000 feet because some devices could have enough power to disrupt the airliner's cockpit radios and instruments.
Airlines hope to study if current devices actually do use enough power to interfere with cockpit instruments. The seemingly constant upgrading of devices, such as the iPad, would require new testing, and officials worry about the effects of a plane full of passengers using electronic devices at the same time. One change that won't happen: The use of personal cell phones will under no circumstances be allowed, according to the Federal Communications Commission.
Whatever. We'd be satisifed with the small victory of being able to keep our headphones on during takeoffs and landings, instead of suffering the humiliation of having to hold up our music player to show the all-powerful flight attendant that it really is turned off, and being told in no uncertain terms that we must remove our headphones during takeoff and landing even though our music player is turned off.
Then again, perhaps such a privilege will only come with a "device fee."