Some travelers jumped for joy last year when the FAA decided to allow smartphone, tablet and e-reader use during takeoffs and landings. But the Association of Flight Attendants – CWA, America’s largest flight attendants’ union, has filed a suit against the FAA asking for a “reset” to previous regulations, according to a report by the AP.
The case, which is being argued in front of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, is focused on how the FAA chose to implement the rule change.
The union argues that the nation’s aviation regulator needed to go through a full rule making process in order to change how passengers handle small electronics, because of rules already on the books that require people stow all items during takeoff and landing.
The FAA, meanwhile, says that the items it now allows people to use during those times aren’t covered by those regulations. Last year, it issued guidance to airlines that reversed previous guidance on stowing personal electronics. At the time, the agency requested public comment on the move, and considered more than 1,000 responses, including one from the flight attendants’ union.
As somebody who has done his fair share of flying over the past year, I understand why the attendants’ union would want the change. It’s easier than ever for me to stick a pair of noise isolating earbuds in and pay more attention to whatever podcast I’m listening to rather than hear the same safety announcements for the umpteenth time.
Tech companies, especially Amazon, put a lot of work into pushing for the new rules, which expanded the usefulness of e-readers and tablets for people who didn’t want to carry physical books or other entertainment in flight.
Still, people who want to read books on their Kindle during takeoff and landing probably don’t have to worry just yet. The AP’s report said that at least one judge on the 3-judge panel seemed skeptical of the union’s arguments, and the court didn’t immediately put a kibosh on electronic use while it’s making a decision.
Airplane photo via Shutterstock.