Southwest Is Only Major Airline Still Barring Gate-To-Gate Use Of Electronic Devices

When the FAA announced last week that it would finally give airlines the authority to allow passengers the use of certain portable electronic devices during takeoff and landing, it said it could take several months for airlines to go through the process of vetting their planes to demonstrate the jets can safely handle radio interference. But in the short time since, every major airline except Southwest now has flights with gate-to-gate use of PEDs.

JetBlue was first out of the gate, announcing on Nov. 1 that all 191 of its planes had been cleared for people to keep playing Sudoku on their iPhones or listening to James Taylor’s greatest hits to calm themselves during takeoff. The airline is even holding a photo contest that encourages passengers to take photos from below 10,000 feet.

Delta also rushed to declare that its jets were given the all-clear for use of electronic devices, followed quickly thereafter by American Airlines.

Both United and US Airways announced earlier today that their planes are also approved, with the caveat from United that not all United Express planes are yet cleared.

(Note that this is also likely true for many of the smaller regional carriers that the majors contract out for the lesser-traveled routes, so even though you book your flight with one of the majors, don’t automatically assume you’ll be able to watch that episode of Big Bang Theory you downloaded to pass the time on your flight to Louisville.)

So what about Southwest?

According to Skift.com, the airline is only saying it will allow PED use as soon as possible.

“We know this is something Customers have wanted for some time now, and we’re excited to soon give them the freedom to use personal devices throughout their flight,” the airline recently explained to Skift. “While specifics of our amended PED policy have yet to be finalized, we plan to work diligently and quickly to implement a process that allows Customers this added convenience. The timeline will be partially based on the FAA approval process.”

Virgin America says it hopes to have gate-to-gate PED use available by Thanksgiving, while Spirit Airlines says it will have it as soon as the company can figure out way to charge you extra for it. Okay, we made that last part up, but that’s not far from the truth, with CEO Ben Baldanza saying that gate-to-gate use of electronics will make it more likely for passengers to pay for WiFi service.

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  1. C0Y0TY says:

    What preparations do they have to make to allow use of PEDs besides just saying they allow it now? If it’s because they want to change their operational and promotional material, they can still do that while verbally allowing it. I don’t think they would have any legal issues with that after the FAA’s allowance.