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We’ve all been there. You’re seconds away from finishing an important email to a client right as a flight attendant tells you to power off your handheld device (for the second time). That inconvenience may soon be a thing of the past, however, as passengers will eventually be able to work and play on their electronic devices during all phases of flight, with very limited exceptions. And as more airlines — including Virgin America, Southwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and American Airlines — expand Wi-Fi capabilities across their fleets, business travelers won’t have to skip a beat. They can also continue to use short-range Bluetooth accessories, such as wireless keyboards, throughout the duration of the flight.
However, changes to portable electronic device (PED) policies are not immediately in effect and will vary by airline, as each carrier must complete a safety assessment, gain FAA approval and change its PED policy.
“Business and leisure travelers alike rely heavily on devices, such as iPads and Kindles, while traveling — to communicate with colleagues, watch a movie with their children or even work with their travel agent to make last-minute changes to their itinerary,” said ASTA president and CEO Zane Kerby in a statement. “We applaud the FAA for taking steps to make flying a little less stressful without compromising safety."
Indeed, airlines are molding their business models to meet the needs of the modern traveler. According to PhoCusWright’s recent report, “Direct Connect and Ancillaries for Airlines: New Distribution Capability,” mobile technologies in the form of tablets and smartphones are untethering the travel planning process as well. Carriers are unbundling their products and services and making them easily accessible for purchases on the go. The intention is that ancillary services will help “convert shoppers into buyers through limited offers that encourage instant purchases.”
Without a doubt, the average American traveler is becoming more reliant on mobile devices from the beginning of the travel process to their return home. As more tech-addicted millennials — the largest growing generation of consumers — plan out their travels in the coming years, that trend won’t be waning anytime soon.