Despite New Rule, Most Fliers Don’t Use Electronic Devices on Planes

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Despite relaxed FAA regulations on electronic devices on planes, a new study says electronic use hasn’t really increased and that passengers still prefer activities like sleep.

Do you recall how frustrating it used to be to have flight attendants insist that you power down your Kindle during your flight’s takeoff? Then you had to sit there twiddling your thumbs until you reached a safe cruising altitude.

When the Federal Aviation Administration announced late last year it was relaxing its regulations on personal electronic devices in planes – allowing gadget use during taxiing, takeoff and landing – airlines and passengers were elated.

It was expected that mobile gadget use on planes would soar, considering Americans’ desire to stay connected.

Surprisingly, in the eight months since the FAA announced the change, electronic gadget use on planes has remained about the same.

A recent study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development found that the number of people using electronic devices at cruising altitude went from 35.3 percent in 2013 to 35.9 percent in 2014. In fact, despite the FAA’s relaxed regs, the Chaddick Institute said the tiny growth in electronic use was the smallest increase observed since it began tracking the data in 2010, according to PCMag.

“Consumers are decidedly unenthusiastic about the change, since they still cannot surf the Internet, email, text or place phone calls during takeoff or landing, which can consume more than 40 minutes of flight time,” Joe Schwieterman, director of the Chaddick Institute and co-author of the study, said in a statement. “We expected the new policies to encourage more consumers to remain ‘powered up’ from gate to gate, but that simply didn’t happen.”

So how are passengers spending their time? PCMag said many fliers sleep, read a magazine or paperback or just relax. “A sizable share of fliers simply say ‘to heck with it’ and suspend technological pursuits until they reach their destination,” Schwieterman said.

Online connectivity on airlines is constantly changing, and it can be challenging to keep abreast of what’s available on certain airlines or flights. If you like to stay connected when you fly, check out these tips.

I don’t fly often, but when I do, I prefer to read on my Kindle or sleep, unless my kids are with me. When you fly with infants and toddlers, gadgets and sleep sadly go by the wayside.

How do you bide your time when you fly? Are you surprised by the study results? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

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