Must We Turn Off Our Kindles on the Plane?

Once you move to an e-reader, as I have, you’re bothered by the fact that you have to give it up for two relatively short periods of time—during airplane take-offs and landings. We’ve been told for years that anything with an on-off switch can interfere with the plane’s navigation system.

An article in the New York Times on 12.31.12 argues that there’s really no evidence for this restriction, but that the FAA is being super-cautious. Some reports say that the restriction is there so people will pay attention to crew member instructions (but they don’t stop us from reading books or doing crosswords or sleeping!)

The author of the piece, Nick Bilton, argues that a greater danger comes with fights that break out when passengers fail to heed these regulations!

The article reports that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has sent a letter to the FAA arguing that e-devices should be permitted, as they allow businesses to be more productive and therefore more competitive in the word economy!

I’ve argued many times that people could be much more creative if they gave themselves a few short periods each day when no new information is coming in.  Maybe this “dead-air” time could be useful in that way.

On the other hand, many people are especially in need of distractions during takeoffs and landings because that’s when planes are most vulnerable to accidents.  Maybe that’s why I always pull out the in-flight magazine at that time, getting involved in the crossword puzzle rather than leaving my thoughts to wander where they will.

Should we eliminate these regulations?

How do you use your device-free time on airplanes?


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