FAA to loosen restrictions on in-flight electronics

boarding

Good news, everyone! The FAA is about to let you use your doo-dad in the plane more often. Specifically, the Wall Street Journal reports, you’ll be able to use your device while the plane is taxing, taking off, landing and climbing to/descending from 10,000 feet. Currently, the use of electronics is not permitted during those maneuvers 1.

A lot of you think that the FAA has enforced periodic electronics lock-downs to force you to watch the safety information or just because it can. That’s really not true. As I reported a few weeks ago, there are some old planes in operation, and many of those use old equipment that can be affected by radio signals. Most planes run more modern equipment but many don’t. Rather than forcing the passengers and crew to make that determination on every flight, the FAA played it safe and made a blanket rule for all aircraft. A United Airlines pilot explains:

“Some older aircraft do have extremely old school radios. Some do not even have GPS. So the FAA has decided two things:

  1. Since it is too contradictory for passengers and flight attendants to discriminate what aircraft they are on, and what should be the corresponding announcement, the same one is used for all aircraft.

  2. The FAA can not take time to test every new device as it’s released. In fact, such testing falls to near the bottom of its priority/to-do list.”

Now you know.

Photo Credit: Sprengben [why not get a friend] via Compfight cc

  1. Note that phone calls will still be verboten during those times.

Flying for iPhone looks like a great flight app

Flying – an iPhone app for all your air travel from Flying on Vimeo.

Flying for iPhone, still in public beta, wants to be on my iPhone so badly I can hear it whispering, “Install meeeee.” This seriously good-looking app shares information you’d expect like departure and arrival times, terminal and gate info (both sides) and weather. It’s also a bit playful, presenting your route data in a fun, novel way (see the video above).

The social aspect looks great, and reminds me of the bits of Gowalla that I enjoyed so much. You can receive “stamps” for achievements and share/compete with your traveling friends. For example, “You crossed the Atlantic Ocean!” Who among your buddies has racked up the most miles?

I don’t have any flights planned in the immediate future (I *might* go to Florida in a few weeks), but I’ll try out Flying as soon as I do. It looks great.

Use your iPhone to book a private jet

blackjetappThere’s an app for today’s mobile one-percenter. BlackJet‘s private jet service is now taking reservations via its iPhone app.

You can book a seat up to two days in advance of your departure date and travel between San Francisco, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Boston and South Florida. As you might expect, it ain’t cheap. I searched for an AM flight between Boston and “South Florida” (I don’t know which airport, actually) and was quoted $2,368.90.

To protect itself from people who would waste their time (like me), BlackJet booking requires a membership plus a one-time membership fee of $2,500. But the benefit is, if you can swing it, you get a guaranteed seat in your preferred time frame on a very nice airplane.

BlackJet says additional cities are coming soon and that well-behaved pets are welcome on board. The company recently received $5 million in funding, according to Galding, and Ashton Kutcher is reportedly a customer.

All I can say is the headphones better be free.