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FAA Eases Up On Electronic Devices On Flights

RENEE MONTAGNE (HOST): Over the next few minutes, we're going to hear about the problems and possibilities of electronic devices when it comes to school rooms. First, though, some loosening of a longtime limit. The FAA says it's now OK for passengers to use their portable electronic devices from gate to gate, though not for everything. NPR's Brian Naylor has more.

BRIAN NAYLOR (BYLINE): No longer will passengers be told to shut off their portable electronic devices in preparation for takeoff or landing. The new FAA rules end a long debate over the safety of the devices; and they mean air travelers can read their e-books, play games or watch movies on their tablets throughout their flights. The action comes just 30 days after an advisory group recommended the old rules be scrapped. FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

MICHAEL HUERTA (FAA ADMINISTRATOR): Like any regulation that has been around for a long time - the world has changed a lot in the last 50 years; let's take a fresh look. And that's why we did.

NAYLOR: The new rule does not apply to cellphones. Phone calls will still not be allowed. But owners of smartphones can use them as long as they're in airplane mode. Flight attendants, the travel industry and the airlines are all welcoming the changes. It's up to each airline to implement them. The CEO of Delta, Richard Anderson, says his airline is ready to go, and intends to make easy use of the device as a marketing tool.

RICHARD ANDERSON (CEO, DELTA AIRLINES): Every one of our airplanes will have Wi-Fi, it'll have a plug, and then that Wi-Fi will also give the customers free access to a lot of free content.

NAYLOR: Laptop users will still have to continue to stow their devices on takeoff and landings because their heavier weight makes them a safety concern, and passengers will be asked to look up and pay attention to the flight attendant safety presentations.

Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.