American Airlines now allows gate-to-gate device use

American Airlines 3.0.3 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 001)American Airlines 3.0.3 for iOS (iPhone screenshot 002)

Last week, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration appeased to gadget lovers by announcing that it will allow airlines to expand use of personal electronics such as tablets and smartphones during nearly all phases of flight. The much-welcomed development means busy folks who detest having to switch off their gadgets before takeoff and landing for fear of messing with the avionics now have plenty to smile about.

The new FAA rules pledge responsible travelers on both domestic and international flights to agree to using their devices in airplane mode most of the time. Following the announcement, American Airlines said yesterday it will permit all passengers to use their gadgets gate-to-gate…

As of yesterday afternoon, November 5, 2013, all American Airlines customers became free to take advantage of gate-to-gate use of mobile devices, the airline wrote in a media release.

The company has obtained necessary approval from the FAA to allow passengers to expand their gadget use onboard American’s entire mainline fleet, as well as regional aircraft operated by American Eagle Airlines.

“American has worked closely with the FAA on this initiative” for quite some time to make it a reality, the release notes.

What’s gate-to-gate?

Essentially, this means being able to use your devices at all times during flight, including during taxi, takeoff and landing.

Some restrictions still apply, however:

• when the aircraft doors are closed for departure, devices will need to be in airplane mode
• Wi-Fi access on equipped aircraft will be available shortly after takeoff
• customers need to secure their handheld devices by holding them or placing them in a seatback pocket; previously, these devices needed to be stowed under a seat or in an overhead bin during taxi, takeoff and landing
• cecause the safety of our customers and people is always our top priority, customers should listen to all safety briefings and comply with crewmember instructions. Our crewmembers don’t like to interrupt our customers’ productivity, but always want them to be safe
• this change doesn’t apply to larger items such as laptops: these items will still need to be stowed during taxi, takeoff and landing
• some American Eagle flights won’t allow the expanded use of personal electronics devices until later this year

Again, you can only use Wi-Fi on supported flights once the aircraft has reached a specific altitude.

American offers in-flight Wi-Fi on 99 percent of its domestic mainline flights, including the entire fleet of Boeing 737s, 767-200s, MD-80s and Airbus A319s. They’re making a lot of fuss about the Boeing 777-300ER being the first aircraft in American’s fleet to offer international Wi-Fi, “enabling customers to remain connected throughout the flight, whether over land or over water”.

Like many airlines, American has a nice iOS app with Passbook support available on the App Store so go ahead and download it if you’re a customer.