If the typical in-flight entertainment and diversions don't do it for you—you've seen the one-star movie, the audio channels spin boring music, and SkyMall just isn't a deep enough read for you—you'll appreciate yesterday's announcement from the Federal Aviation Administration.
With the release of updated rules that should be in effect widely by the end of 2013, you now have gate-to-gate use of your smart phone, tablet, e-book reader, and MP3 player, as long as the device stays in airplane mode and you don't use it for functions that require a network connection (making phone calls, sending texts, surfing the Web, streaming video). You can use a laptop, too, though you'll have to stow it for safety reasons during takeoff and landing. Previously, all of those devices were off-limits below 10,000 feet.
The guidelines apply only to airplanes that are protected from electronic interference, according to the agency.
The FAA change has been a long time coming—after all, MythBusters debunked the idea of cell phones interfering with a plane's electronics back in 2006—but it's a welcome move. Now maybe the FAA and the airlines can do something to make the overall flying experience more enjoyable (or is that less miserable?). Here's a checkllist of things to deal with: ticket cost, cramped seating, limited overhead storage, and slow baggage delivery.
Think they can take care of those items before the holiday-travel gets into high gear?
—Maggie Shader and Steven H. Saltzman