For as long as personal gadgets and planes have coexisted, so has this simple question: why do I have to shut off my personal electronic devices before take-off and landing?
Well, as the folks at College Humour point out, that simple question has a very complicated answer.
Er... make that complex answers.
Actually, scratch all that, no one really knows for sure. Warning, you're in for some NSFW language ahead.
After all, could your Kindle really shut down a plane? Is it possible the 13 year old next to you could hold an entire plane full of passenger hostage using nothing more than their Nintendo 3DS? Why is it that 90 million dollars in the latest avionics can't compete with the electromagnetic fields generated by a handful of $40 iPod shuffles?
All valid questions which highlight the biggest issue of the fight vs. flight debate: there aren't definitive answers. And the answers given only raise more questions.
Let's start with the most commonly heard excuse: your wireless device will interfere with the navigational instruments plane use to communicate with airports. If that's the case, then why are pilots exempted and can use iPads in lieu of cumbersome flight manuals, asks the New York Times.
Let's also not forget in-flight WI-FI is becoming increasingly popular on board North American flights. If the electromagnetic radiation from your gadgets is such a concern, why offer such a service that promotes the use of said gadgets in the first place?
The typical answer from the United States' Federal Aviation Association -- the governmental body Transport Canada looks to when it comes to airline policy -- is that two iPads and a wireless router isn't enough to cause enough interference. Hundreds of wireless devices working at once could cause enough interference to mess up a plane.
Only, that's not the case, according to Anthony Carboni from D News, because that's not how electro-magnetic energy works.
The only reasoning that makes any sense is the argument for distractions. By turning off electronics, passengers have fewer distractions when airline crews deliver safety instructions.
It may not fully eliminate distractions as Gizmodo points out, but it simply means one less thing holding you back from finding your life jacket in case of an emergency.
Simply put, for all the fear there is regarding electronic devices causing a fiery death for hundreds of passengers, there isn't enough evidence to support such a case. It's why airlines in the U.K. and even the FAA are looking to at increase the amount of time passengers can spend on their gadgets.
So, do you turn off your gadgets prior when requested? Let us know in the comment section below or on Twitter at @HPCaTravel
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