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105 million hours of digital activities lost to FAA ban, study says

June 09, 2013|By Hugo Martin
  • Virgin America passengers use onboard wireless Internet on a flight in 2009.
Virgin America passengers use onboard wireless Internet on a flight in… (Virgin America )

When flight attendants order travelers to shut off their electronic devices during takeoffs and landings, they disrupt a lot of valuable technological activity.

Well, maybe the activity is not so valuable but there is a lot of it.

More than 105 million hours of activity on electronic devices are expected to be disrupted in 2013 by the Federal Aviation Administration’s ban on using such devices during takeoffs and landings, according to a study by DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

The number of lost hours gaming or reading jumped from 51.7 million in 2010, according to the study, which is based on observations of nearly 1,700 passengers on 23 flights.

The study estimates that the use of electronic devices on planes is surging, with more than 35% of travelers using gadgets like electronic tablets and smartphones at some point in a flight, up from 28% in 2012 and 17.6% in 2010.

The study concludes that the FAA ban on electronic devices during takeoffs and landings comes at a “high cost to the traveling public in regards to technology use.”

It goes on to suggest that the FAA “follow an aggressive timetable for lifting the ban and allowing passengers more time to ‘power up.’ ”

The FAA has already assembled a panel to consider lifting the ban on using e-readers, tablets and other devices on planes. Cellphone calls will be off the table. A report from the committee is expected to be released at the end of July.

With the ban still in place, AirTran Airways last week reported that its crews were forced to remove 100 high school students and eight chaperons from a flight from New York to Atlanta.

A spokeswoman for the airline, a subsidiary of Southwest Airlines, said the kids were bumped “due to behavior and inability to comply with our flight attendants requests.” One request they refused, the airline said, was to turn off their cellphones.


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