For those of us who may have missed the news in October 2013, The Federal Aviation Administration found that our mobile devices will not interfere with a plane's functionality and can be used during takeoff and landing, pending a review of each airline's fleet. (And anyone who didn't turn them off can now stop feeling guilty.) Gadgets must be in airplane mode but we can watch a movie as the plane taxis, takes off, starts its initial descent, and arrives at your destination.
"We believe the decision honors both our commitment to safety and consumer's increasing desire to use their electronic devices during all phases of their flights," Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement. "These guidelines reflect input from passengers, pilots, manufacturers, and flight attendants, and I look forward to seeing airlines implement these much anticipated guidelines in the near future."
If an airline provides Wi-Fi service during flights, we can also tap into that, while use of short-range Bluetooth accessories, like wireless keyboards, are also be allowed. And from next month, according to Patently Apple, United Airlines is launching a new in-flight video-streaming service for iPhone and iPad users with more than 150 movies and 200 TV shows for free.
The service will initially only be available to mobile passengers with an iDevice running iOS 7, though Patently Apple said it should work on laptops via the browser, too. On iOS, users will need to download the United Airlines app from the Apple iTunes Store.
"Most planes will be equipped with the new system very soon, and we'll have it installed on most domestic aircraft by the end of 2014," United told Patently Apple. First up for integration are the Airbus A319, Airbus A320, Boeing 747-400, and select 777-200 aircraft. "In the end, all United-operated flights will have some form of entertainment," the company said.
United is not the first Airline to be providing entertainment via on-board, Wifi Southwest provides on-demand TV and movies – for a fee and Lufthansa recently announced plans to install its own system in the coming months.
Is this the beginning of the end of the small screen on the back of the seat in-front and the eventual removal of any inflight entertainment on budget airlines – with the BYO (Bring Your Own) Device becoming the norm? Many of the passengers I sit next too are already doing just that – so maybe we're the ones encouraging the airlines to adopt this strategy – and hope fully like United they'll stream it for free.