Cell phones

Within weeks, travelers will be able to operate iPads, Kindles and even smartphones throughout a commercial flight, but calls will still be banned.

By Hugo Martín and W.J. Hennigan
October 31, 2013, 6:29 p.m.

Score one for the weary air traveler.

Ever-increasing baggage fees, vanishing leg room and invasive security screening measures have made air travel hellish for millions of passengers. Now the government is giving fliers more screen time with their gadgets.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Thursday that it will ease restrictions on the use of portable electronic devices during takeoffs and landings. Within a few weeks, travelers will be able to operate their iPads, Kindles and even smartphones throughout a commercial flight, though phone calls will still be banned.

The agency has given in to the reality that most Americans aren’t happy when denied these beloved digital companions, which pose little threat to safety on a plane, industry experts say.

About 90% of airline passengers board a plane packing hand-held devices and laptops, and at least 40% said they would like to use those gadgets throughout the flight, according to a recent survey by the Consumer Electronics Assn., a trade group for the electronics industry.

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