The FAA officially gave the green light to lifting restrictions on using portable electronics in flight, but before that can actually happen each airline needs to get government approval. How long will it be before you can start using your iPad during takeoff and landing? That day may be coming sooner than you think because Delta and JetBlue both started yesterday, with more coming soon.
Delta first to gain FAA approval for iPad use below 10,000 feet
Following a months-long investigation into whether or not handheld electronics like iPads, iPhones and Kindle ebook readers, posed a risk to avionics during takeoff and landing, the FAA concluded that there wasn't any reason to block people from using the devices. The announcement came earlier this week, and now it's up to the airlines to apply for approval before they let passengers play games and read ebooks through all flight phases.
The FAA changes mean it's OK to use your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or other smartphone or tablet during all phases of flights that start in the United States, but those devices must be in Airplane Mode. Laptops, however, aren't included on the safe to use list.
American Airlines - YES
[Update: Monday, November 4th, 4:25pm EST] An inside source at American Airlines has confirmed that AA has received FAA approval and will go live with gate-to-gate use of personal electronics starting at 5:00pm CST today.
Delta - YES
Delta is Johnny-on-the-spot and may well be the first airline to get FAA approval. According to The Mac Observer's sources in the company, portable electronic devices are cleared for use below 10,000 feet, during taxiing, and take off and landing as of Friday afternoon.
Frontier - NO
Jet Blue - YES
Jet Blue went public with their approval just a few short hours after we initially published this list, and they even went on to post their own video showing their first flight allowing gate-to-gate personal electronics.
Southwest - YES
[Update: Thursday, November 21st, 8:15am EST] Southwest joined the gate-to-gate club, but found a way to set itself apart from the rest of the carriers by offering WiFi service from the time passengers get on their flight until the time the get off. That luxury will set you back US$8 per device, but it also means you can check email and Twitter while you're buckling your seatbelt.
United - YES
[Update: Wednesday, November 6th, 9:00pm EST] United is letting handheld electronics fly the friendly skies, but only on its mainline flights. The airline is working on getting approval for its regional partners and is hoping to have that wrapped up by the end of the year.
US Airways - YES
[Update: Thursday, November 21st, 6:45am EST] Personal electronic devices, or PED, are fine on US Airways flights below 10,000 feet. The airline even went so far as to say devices weighing less than two pounds can be held during takeoff and landing. That means your iPad is fine, but your MacBook Air stays stowed away during takeoff and landing.
Virgin America - YES
[Update: Friday, November 22nd, 11:45am EST] Virgin America is finally in on the gate-to-gate PED game, but they're bringing something a little different because they managed to get approvale for electronics use in all flight categories which includes complicated landings. That means you can keep reading your ebooks and playing video games even during limited visibility landings. That leaves Frontier as the last holdout.
The Mac Observer has asked several other major airlines what their time schedule for FAA approval is, but so far haven't heard back. As the do we'll let you know what their status is.