FAA Changes Rules for Devices, Customers Rejoice

Infini Kimbrough
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In October of 2013, the FAA announced that it would relax the rules governing mobile device use on planes. For customer service professionals, particularly those in the airline industry, the new FAA rules debuted to mixed reviews. Though customers enjoy the ability to use their devices from gate to gate, the updated regulations present new challenges.

The new FAA rules allow passengers to use personal electronic devices at all times during a flight, from boarding to landing—subject to the operational practices of the individual airline. Prior to the announcement, passengers were required to turn off their devices completely during takeoff and landing, which irritated people who were listening to music, reading e-books, or watching movies they had saved on their devices.

Under the new FAA rules, passengers will be able to keep their devices on, as long as they are in nontransmitting mode. On most devices, this is called airplane mode. In airplane mode, devices can operate as usual but do not attempt to connect to phone towers. They can also connect to an airline's in-flight Wi-Fi, if available.

For flight attendants and others in the customer service industry, the new FAA rules mean happier customers and less legwork. Instead of pacing the aisles, repeatedly reminding passengers to turn off their mobile devices, flight attendants may simply make announcements asking customers to switch on airplane mode.

Unfortunately, the updated FAA rules also mean that flight attendants must keep watch for people who are attempting to use their mobile devices in illegal ways. Passengers who are texting or talking on the phone during takeoff may be tempted to keep up their activities even after they hear the request to switch to airplane mode. After all, texting may be difficult to distinguish from standard typing.

In addition to lifting the ban on electronic devices during takeoff and landing, the FAA is debating whether or not passengers should be able to make phone calls in flight. According to a recent story about in-flight mobile use, customers are wary of the potential disruptions that the relaxed rules may bring. If the FAA allows full mobile usage, airline customer service professionals will have to deal with irate customers who do not want a quiet flight interrupted by other passengers' conversations.

When it comes to customer satisfaction, the new regulations are generally looked on as a success. For airline customer service professionals, it is crucial to keep an eye on the regulations, which have the potential to change in the near future. By staying on top of the newest developments in the FAA rules, service professionals can keep customers informed and safe, both in the air and on the ground.



(Photo courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net)


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