Good news for those who fly with personal electronics: The FAA has announced that you can keep your devices up and functioning from boarding to landing, rather rather than shutting down between the ground and 10,000 feet. Phone calls or other signal transmissions are still not allowed during flight, so that flight mode switch will continue to be of use.
The pre-flight safety briefing continues to be something they want you to pay attention to, so you will be asked to remove earbuds and put down electronic devices, books, newspapers, etc, and listen to details about how to inflate the floatation vests.
Items need to be either held or stowed during takeoff and landing – no resting your iPad on the seat-back tray during those times.
Also, there is a provision that during instances of low visibility (defined as about one percent of flights) devices may need to be turned off in deference to certain landing systems.
And as always, the flight crew gets the final say. If they ask you to do something, you’re required to do it.
The actual in-effect date will vary by airline as each will need to revise their policies and prove to the FAA that devices on during takeoff and landing will not be a safety issue, but this is expected by the end of the year. Meaning holiday travelers need not pack paper books as well as Kindles when heading off to visit the family.