Missouri Senator Claire McCaskill is on your side. Recently, Sen. McCaskill wrote a letter to the FAA asking that travelers be able to use their electronic devices in-flight, and for the duration of the flight. Currently, concerns over any device that emits a radio frequency prohibit us from using our gadgets during take-off or landing sequences.

Calling the current rules “inconvenient to travelers,” Sen. McCaskill also pointed out that those rules lack a scientific basis. While it may all sound a bit like sour grapes from a traveler who happens to be a senator, Sen. McCaskill sits on a Senate Committee for Commerce, Science and Transportation which has oversight on aviation communication policy. An excerpt from her letter to the FAA chief points out that pilots are now allowed to use tablets in lieu of paper flight plans, which causes skepticism amongst travelers:

As you surely know, the public is growing increasingly skeptical of prohibitions on the use of many electronic devices during the full duration of a flight, while at the same time using such devices in increasing numbers. For example, a traveler can read a paper copy of a newspaper throughout a flight, but is prohibited from reading the same newspaper for major portions of the flight when reading it on an e-reader. The fear of devices that operate on electricity is dated, at best. Importantly, such anachronistic policies undermine the public’s confidence in the FAA, thereby increasing the likelihood that rules of real consequence will be given too little respect. The absurdity of the current situation was highlighted when the FAA acted earlier this year to allow tablet computers to replace paper flight manuals in the cockpit, further enhancing the public’s skepticism about the current regulations.

The full copy of the letter can be found on Senator McCaskill’s website (see Source link below). While the inability to use a smartphone or tablet during a flight is definitely an inconvenience, the FAA is slow to adopt changes to rules. Would you be interested in the ability to use your device for the duration of your flight?