Date: October 31, 2013
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced today that airlines can now expand the use of electronic devices by passengers during all phases of flight. Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Cellular service will need to be disabled and phones will still need to be in airplane mode.
This is welcome news for many travelers but especially for members of the autism community who rely on electronic devices to help them communicate or to keep them callm during the chaos that can come with the on board experience.
The decision was based on input from a group of experts that included representatives from the airlines, aviation manufacturers, passengers, pilots, flight attendants, and the mobile technology industry. The group was formed in response to the growing consumer desire to use their electronic devices throughout the flying experience.
The implementation of the relaxed rules will vary by airline. Each airline will have to prove to the FAA that their planes allow passengers to safely use their devices in airplane mode, gate-to-gate. The FAA expects most carriers to prove this by the end of the year. Passengers should be sure to check with their airlines before flying to determine their specific rules and regulations.
Read more from the FAA press release here.
The flying experience can be very difficult for families in the autism community. In September, Autism Speaks partnered with JetBlue Airways to host Blue Horizons for Autism at JFK Airport in Queens, NY. The event allowed families to walk through the full air travel experience from the ticket counter, through security and onto the plane. The plane then circled the tarmac and passengers deboarded to a celebratory reception. The event was a great success and we hope to host many more in the future. Stay tuned!
If you are preparing for air travel with your family, be sure to check out Adventures in Autism: A Guide to the Airport Experience, which we created to help families get ready for their trips!