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Appeals Court Says You Can Keep Using Your Gadget During Landings and Take Offs

15225197808_0198874670_kThe next time you absolutely have to be playing Angry Birds while the flight attendants are giving a safety briefing, be sure to give a silent thanks to the the US Court of Appeals for DC.

In October 2014 the flight attendants union, AFA-CWA, had asked the court to overturn the FAA’s new rules which allowed passengers on US flights to keep their mobile devices on during take offs and landings, and on Friday Ars Technica reported that a three-judge panel had denied the appeal.

The judges ruled in part that:

In this case, it really does not matter whether Notice N8900.240 is viewed as a policy statement or an interpretive rule. The main point here is that the Notice is not a legislative rule carrying “the force and effect of law.” Perez, 135 S. Ct. at 1204. A legislative rule “modifies or adds to a legal norm based on the agency’s own authority” flowing from a congressional delegation to engage in supplementary lawmaking.

Americans have been able to keep their mobile devices powered up during all stages of a flight since October 2013, and thanks to this week’s ruling that privilege will continue unabated.

What a strange lawsuit.

While I can appreciate why the union sued, their argument was based on procedural technicalities and nuanced interpretations of existing regulations. The odds were so heavily stacked against them that I was surprised that they even an appeal after they lost in district court.

image by Gianni Bassini

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Doug May 11, 2015 um 12:56 pm

To be picky, it wasn’t a lawsuit and it wasn’t an appeal from a District Court action. It was a petition for review, made directly to the 2nd Circuit Court.

Also to be picky, it’s up to the airlines to decide what devices can be used and when on their flights. The FAA has simply backed away from its stricter guidance.

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