The FAA announced this morning that it is relaxing its restrictions on the use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight, including takeoff and landing. Here's the agency's statement:
"Passengers will eventually be able to read e-books, play games, and watch videos on their devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. Electronic items, books and magazines, must be held or put in the seat back pocket during the actual takeoff and landing roll. Cell phones should be in airplane mode or with cellular service disabled—i.e., no signal bars displayed-and cannot be used for voice communications based on FCC regulations that prohibit any airborne calls using cell phones."
The new rules, which have been expected for some time now, won't turn the cabin into an electronic wild west, however. Making a phone call or sending a text via a cellular network still won't be allowed under the new rules, and phones will be required to remain in Airplane Mode during the duration of the flight. (Same goes for tablets or e-readers with access to cellular data.) Those with laptops, meanwhile, will still need to store them below their seat or in an overhead compartment during takeoff and landing, and the airlines may still tell you to turn off your any device during landing if the weather's particularly bad.
The agency says it is immediately providing airlines with guidance for implementation of the new rule. While the time frame for implementation may vary among carriers, passengers can expect to see the changes in place by the end of this year or early next. For more on the new rules, you can check out the FAA's rather straightforward FAQ here.