Canadian's Transport Minister, Lisa Raitt, announced Monday that Canada will follow the United States and the European Union's lead and relax some restrictions in regards to the use of mobile devices while on their airplanes while in flight, while maintaining a banned on the actual transmitting of information. She is allowing travelers to use their smartphones, cameras, electronic games, e-readers, tablets and computers from take-off to landing, as long as the transmission capabilities of the device have been disabled – up until now, all devices had to be turned off during take-offs and landings. Discussions and meetings regarding relaxing the restrictions were going on for months and Air Canada said it will start implementing the changes "very shortly" and could begin flying under the new guidelines with days. Ms. Raitt told reporters:
"It's good news for air passengers and it's good news for the Canadian aviation industry. Trust me, as a mom of a 12- and a 9-year-old, I'm pretty happy that we don't have to go through the whole, I would say, drama of turning off your Nintendo DS in the middle of a really important game where we have to save Pokemon before it's over."
These new guidelines will only be permissible if the airline has updated their safety manuals and are able to guarantee that during take-offs and landings that the passengers will be able to follow the flight crew's instructions and orders. The ban on sending or receiving emails and in-flight phone calls will remain in force – in other words, your smartphone will have to be in the 'Airplane Mode.' Ms. Raitt said that this is important because the transmissions could interfere with the aircraft's navigation and communications systems. Customers can still compose emails while in flight, but must wait until the airplane is on the ground and taxiing to the gate.
While many passengers are excited about the changes, but are wondering how the airlines will be able to enforce the new policy and police the 'Airplane Mode.' Ms. Raitt said there are a variety of techniques that the U.S. carriers use and it will be up to the individual airlines to ensure that passengers follow the rules. Derek Vanstone, an Air Canada vice-president said:
"To some extent we have to trust passengers, and flight attendants will have to use their judgment if they believe a passenger is not listening to instructions. We have to prove the airlines aren't affected by ranges of transmission, so even if somebody accidentally leaves their device on, it's not an issue of safety. But we'll be checking for compliance."
"Trust passengers?" We all know how well people listen to the no texting while driving laws. Please let us know on our Google+ Page if you are glad to hear about relaxing the usage of mobile devices on Canadian air flights…as always, we would love to hear from you.