"The Federal Aviation Administration will allow airlines to expand passengers' use of portable electronic devices during all phases of flight, the agency announced today, but cell phone calls will still be prohibited," says a "Breaking News" email from CNN.
I'm guessing the cell phones are still prohibited because we really cannot tolerate a plane full of people yakking on their cell phones. And yet... flying on a plane is an ordeal in the toleration of other people. Those of us who are too sensitive to endure it are not on that plane, which means that if you are, you're there with a plane full of insensitive people.
I know that's not completely true. Some people are forced to fly. Or rather: everyone on any plane has some reason to be there that outweighs the unpleasantness of the experience. It just takes more for some of us than others. And now we can use iPads and laptops to watch movies and play video games and work work work. The question for any given would-be passenger is: Does that add to the pro or the con side of flying?
In the future, the planes will be full of people who are there having weighed the pros and cons under the new rule. And when you see (or think about) what that's like, you'll have to redo your own weighing of reasons to fly against the unpleasantness of the experience. Am I going to be sitting between 2 guys playing video games while someone behind me pounds away on a laptop on the tray-table attached to my seat?
ADDED: I do realize that today's rule change relates only to the takeoff and landing phases and that devices have been common on flights for a long time. The "now" in paragraph 3, above, was intended to refer to the way things have been recently and awkwardly to the new extension of freedom to use devices. As for weighing the pros and cons of the new rule: If the absence of the use of devices was a comfort, it was only a small comfort, in part of the flight. Changing the rule at least ends the pestering by flight attendants. Overall, I like the rule change. I need reading or listening material on a plane, and I don't want to have to think about or to carry the weight of a paper book to tide me over during the takeoff and landing phases. I especially don't like being woken up half an hour before landing to be told to turn off the audiobook that enabled me to fall and to stay asleep.