American, Southwest Working on New Rules for On-Board Devices - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

American, Southwest Working on New Rules for On-Board Devices



    The FAA it's now allowing passengers to use electronic devices on planes during take-off and landings. (Published Thursday, Oct. 31, 2013)

    American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are already working on how to implement new federal rules that will allow passengers to use electronic devices during takeoffs and landings.

    The Federal Aviation Administration issued new guidelines Thursday that say passengers can use their devices gate-to-gate. However, talking on cellphones still will not be allowed.

    But travelers shouldn't expect immediate changes. Airlines will have to show the FAA how their airplanes meet the new guidelines and that they have updated their flight crew training manuals and rules for stowing devices.

    American Airlines said it will submit its plan to the FAA on Friday and implement it as soon as it receives approval from the agency.

    "American has been working with the FAA for some time on this initiative, and we are excited to bring this improved level of service to our customers," the airline said in a statement.

    The Fort Worth-based airline also said it is working with its regional partners and hopes to "bring the same level of portable device access to regional customers by the end of the year."

    Dallas-based Southwest Airlines said it is working "as fast as humanly possible" on the new guidelines.

    "This is a huge reason we've invested in equipping most of our 700 aircraft with Wi-Fi technology," Southwest spokesman Brad Hawkins said in an emailed statement. "Personal electronic devices are something our passengers have told us they want to be able to use from the gate to the gate, so, today, the work really begins to put those policies in place."

    Currently, passengers are required to turn off their phones and other electronic devices while planes are below 10,000 feet to prevent interference with sensitive cockpit equipment. But newer aircraft are better equipped to prevent electronic interference.

    Under the new rules, connections to the Internet will still be prohibited below 10,000 feet. However, passengers will be allowed to connect to their airplane's installed Wi-Fi network and use short-range Bluetooth accessories, such as wireless keyboards.

    Heavier devices such as laptops will have to be stowed. Passengers will be told to switch their smartphones, tablets and other devices to airplane mode.

    In the rare instance of low visibility, passengers may be advised to turn off their electronic device by their flight crew to prevent interference with the landing system. The FAA says you should always follow the instructions of your airplane's crew.

    NBC 5's Eric King contributed to this report.