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More International Airlines Join the Gate-to-Gate Gadget Club

August 26, 2014 at 12:20 PM | by | ()

A photo from onboard last year's first US flight with gate-to-gate gadgets, on JetBlue

Living the "airplane mode" life is so nice and so smooth, that it's incredible to think that the FAA only allowed gate-to-gate electronic use less than one year ago, on November 1, 2013. Since then, flight attendants on airlines in the United States have been able to eliminate the "turn off and stow all electronics" part from their pre-flight talk, replacing it with a less severe direction to simply switch those electronics to airplane mode.

The relaxation of the in-flight electronics rule spread from the US to the UK, with British Airways becoming the first non-US airline to keep gadgets on, after the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave the okays in late 2013.

Other countries have been dragging their feet in the testing and approval process, and it's taken Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) board until today for their decision which, thankfully, is a positive one.

Beginning today, passengers flying Down Under are good to keep those portable electronic devices (PEDs) switched on during all stages of flight, so long as the transmitting is off during taxi, takeoff, and landing (solution: flip that "airplane mode" switch), and so long as the airline has passed tests. The first airlines to do so are Qantas or Virgin Australia, though it's expected QantasLink, Jetstar, and Tigerair will follow.

Some aircraft present exceptions, where "all off" is still required. Our friends at Australian Business Traveller have the nitty gritty details of these:

Virgin Australia and Virgin Samoa flights to or from New Zealand, the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Vanuatu and Fiji are excluded as approval has not yet been granted by the New Zealand CAA.

Additionally, Virgin Australia Regional Airlines flights – including between Sydney and Canberra – on ATR 72, Airbus A320, Fokker 50 and Fokker 100 aircraft won't yet see gate to gate gadgets, and neither will VA's flagship Boeing 777 flights to Los Angeles and Abu Dhabi, as Virgin Australia's exemption for its Boeing 737, Embraer 190 and Airbus A330 aircraft doesn't extend to its regional or long-haul arms.

If you're still left wondering whether or not your flight is a part of the gadgets-on or gadgets-off list, just tune your ears into the flight attendant's pre-departure spiel, when they are required to say if gadget use is or is not allowed.

Note: the relaxed rules only apply to small gadgets, specifically smartphones and tablets. Full laptops will have to remain powered off until the aircraft has reached cruising altitude and crew announce that they are safe to be used.

[Photo: JetBlue]

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