Using electronic devices on planes is probably fine

We're a big fan of gadgets over here at DVICE. We'll take any and all, from cyborg cockroaches to climate-controlled seats. And of course, the ubiquitous smartphone. But there's one place where even we are not allowed to use our beloved devices: on an airplane. As it turns out, there may be very little sense as to why.

This past year, Alec Baldwin was tossed off a flight for playing with his phone during takeoff. The reason is one we all know: keeping our cellphones on during takeoff and landing could mess with the communications system by… erm… well…

Does anyone actually know why? More importantly, does everyone listen to this rule?

As it turns out, even the Federal Aviation Administration doesn't know why. It sought public comment on the policy on Aug. 31, which prompted The Wall Street Journal to do an online survey of 492 American adults. The survey attempted to find out how many people actually listen to the rule.

Of that sample, 40 percent claimed to leave their cellphones on during takeoff and landing. Nearly half of these people don't heed the warnings. More than seven percent left the phones on and not in "airplane mode." In other words, they left on the Wi-Fi. Two percent of them actually used their phone during takeoffs and landings.

Yet, planes aren't crashing left and right.

The policy was formed in 1991, which there were reports from pilots and flight crews that electronic devices were messing with air-to-ground communications. Since then, no one's been able to duplicate the problems, but the policy was in place. So it stayed.

I'm not suggesting we rise up and start using our Kindles and iPhones willy-nilly during those few moments between ground and 15,000 feet. But if you see someone else doing so, keep calm and carry on. It's probably fine.

Via The Wall Street Journal

For the latest tech stories, follow DVICE on Twitter
at @dvice or find us on Facebook