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FAA to let passengers use electronics throughout flight

No cellphone calls, though

WASHINGTON – Government safety rules are changing to let airline passengers use most electronic devices from gate-to-gate.

The change will let passengers read, work, play games, watch movies and listen to music – but not make cellphone calls.

The Federal Aviation Administration says airlines can allow passengers to use the devices during takeoffs and landings on planes that meet certain criteria for protecting aircraft systems from electronic interference.

Most new airliners are expected to meet the criteria, but changes won’t happen immediately. Timing will depend upon the airline.

Connections to the Internet to surf, exchange emails, text or download data will still be prohibited below 10,000 feet. Heavier devices like laptops will have to be stowed. Passengers will be told to switch their smartphones, tablets and other devices to airplane mode.

A travel industry group welcomed the changes, calling them common-sense accommodations for a traveling public now bristling with technology.

“We’re pleased the FAA recognizes that an enjoyable passenger experience is not incompatible with safety and security,” said Roger Dow, CEO of the U.S. Travel Association.

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