Travel Associations Support FAA Move on Onboard Electronics

airplaneThe U.S. Travel Association, the Global Business Travel Association, Airlines for America and the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) have all welcomed the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) decision to relax prohibitions on the use of electronic devices during certain portions of passenger flights.

RELATED: FAA Allows Airlines to Expand Use of Personal Electronics

"“We’ are pleased the FAA recognizes that an enjoyable passenger experience is not incompatible with safety and security.“The Obama administration deserves credit for common-sense, ‘win-win’ policies like this, as well as the implementation of Automated Passport Control and the expansion of programs such as Visa Waiver and Pre-Check," Roger Dow, president and CEO of U.S. Travel said.

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"“The travel community is grateful, because what’'s good for the traveler is good for travel-related businesses and our economy. It’s this kind of forward thinking that will enable us to remain among the leading industries in growth and job creation," Dow said.”

The FAA's Portable Electronic Devices Aviation Rulemaking Committee issued a report yesterday stating that the onboard use of smaller electronic devices such as phones and tablets posed no risk to planes flying below 10,000 feet, provided they are not sending or receiving cell tower signals. Larger devices, such as laptops, should continue to be stowed for safety reasons, the report recommended.

FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said the agency will proceed with implementing the committee'’s recommendations. Several airlines have responded favorably to the FAA decision.

The GBTA's Executive Director and COO Michael W. McCormick commented, “Business travelers applaud the recommendations of the FAA Aviation Rulemaking Committee to allow greater use of personal electronic devices during flights. These busy road warriors will take every opportunity to stay connected with their customers and partners – the key to success. Although this is encouraging news, business travelers recognize that safety is the number one priority and must never be compromised. GBTA urges the FAA and the airlines to take the steps necessary to implement the new policies and to consider opportunities for even greater use of personal electronic devices. We will continue to monitor the testing and implementation phases to ensure all safety concerns are addressed.”  

RELATED: IATA: Air Travel Demand Continues to Improve

Airlines for America (A4A) said, "A4A commends the Portable Electronic Devices (PED) Aviation Rulemaking Committee (ARC) for its report and recommendations on expanded use of personal electronic devices inflight. A4A and our members will work with the FAA to ensure expanded customer use of electronic devices is implemented safely and expeditiously."

Citing its long-standing support, the ASTA joined with the other travel groups to welcome the announcement.

“Business and leisure travelers alike rely heavily on devices like iPads and Kindles while traveling – to communicate with colleagues, watch a movie with their children or even work with their travel agent to make last-minute changes to their itinerary,” said ASTA President & CEO Zane Kerby. “We applaud the FAA for taking steps to make flying a little less stressful without compromising safety.”

Under guidance issued by the FAA, ASTA noted that airlines are now authorized to allow passengers to use personal electronics like iPads, Kindles and smartphones during all stages of flight. 

Under the new guidance, ASTA said  use of cellular telephones during flights will still be barred and electronic devices will have to be safely stowed during takeoffs and landings. 

But, ASTA noted,  the agency said it expects most airlines to begin allowing gate-to-gate use of electronics in airplane mode by the end of the year. This policy change was recommended by a special FAA rulemaking committee, which concluded most commercial airplanes can tolerate radio interference signals from personal electronic devices. 

In February 2013 and again in October, ASTA co-signed a letter to the FAA with Expedia, Inc., Orbitz Worldwide, Sabre Holdings, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives and the Business Travel Coalition expressing support for the expanded use of personal electronics in flight.

Vist www.FAA.gov

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