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Nearly a third of fliers left devices turned on during flights

May 10, 2013|By Salvador Rodriguez | This post has been corrected. See the note below for details.
  • A study released this week found 30% of U.S. airline passengers said they accidentally left on an electronic device during the entirety of a flight in 2012.
A study released this week found 30% of U.S. airline passengers said they… (Charles Krupa / Associated…)

A study released this week found 30% of U.S. airline passengers accidentally left their tech devices turned on during flights in 2012.

The study was conducted by the Airline Passenger Experience Assn. and the Consumer Electronics Assn. as a way to aid the Federal Aviation Administration's review of its ban on the use of electronics during flight takeoffs and landings. The FAA in August said the review was coming as a result of "widespread consumer use of portable electronic devices."

Besides finding how often passengers leave their devices turned on during flights, the study also found that nearly all, or 99%, of passengers brought some sort of electronic device on a flight. Of those, 69% said they used their devices during a flight.

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“Airline passengers have come to rely on their smartphones, tablets and e-readers as essential travel companions,” said Doug Johnson, vice president of technology policy at CEA, in a statement. “Understanding the attitudes and behaviors of passengers that are using electronic devices while traveling will help the FAA make informed decisions.”

Typically, passengers are asked to turn off their devices before a plane lifts off and again before it lands. The study found that 59% of passengers completely turn their devices off while 21% put their device in "airplane mode," which turns off radio signals. Of those who accidentally left their devices turned on, 61% said the device was a smartphone.

The study also found that four out of 10 passengers want to be able to use their device through the entirety of a flight.

“This study showed us that most travelers are using their [portable electronic devices] as often as possible while traveling, and many would like even more opportunities to use their devices” said Russell A. Lemieux, APEX executive director, in a statement.

The study was conducted in December and surveyed 1,629 adults who live in the U.S.

[For the record, 2:43 p.m. May 10: An earlier version of this story said 30% of fliers left their devices on flights in 2012. In fact, the study says they left their devices turned on during flights.]


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