Gadgets on Airplanes: Young Adults Want FAA Rule Changed
by Leslie Meredith, TechNewsDaily Senior Writer
December 13 2011 10:53 AM ET
A new poll shows that younger people are far more likely to believe it's time for the Federal Aviation Administration to loosen its rule about turning off electronic devices before takeoff.
After actor Alec Baldwin’s removal from an American Airlines flight for refusing to turn off his phone while playing a video game, Poll Position surveyed 1,356 registered U.S. voters to find out how they felt about the FAA’s long-standing rule that electronic devices must be turned off when planes are preparing to take off.
The poll found that 70 percent of people ages 18-29 believe passengers should be able to play electronic games on the runway, but older respondents disagreed. Approval for game playing plummeted as age rose. For those ages 30 to 44, 40.5 percent said that using game devices while waiting for takeoff was acceptable, but only 26.8 percent in the 44-64 age group and 20.7 percent of those 65 and older said that it was OK.
Baldwin, 53, did not share the outlook of most of his peers. Instead of turning off his device along with the other passengers, Baldwin locked himself in the bathroom to continue a round of “Words with Friends,” a popular Scrabble-like game, on his phone. The flight was delayed and Baldwin was escorted from the plane at Los Angeles International Airport and booked on a later flight to Kennedy International Airport in New York.
The FAA rule has been in force since 1993, long before the advent of “airplane mode” on cellphones, e-readers and other electronics that was designed to eliminate interference with a plane’s electronics by suspending many of the gadget's signal-transmitting functions. The reasons for the FAA rule are unclear, but a spokesperson for the FAA told the New York Times the agency would rather err on the side of caution when it comes to digital devices on planes.