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Food and travel captivate Janet Podolak, who chronicles both for The News-Herald. Get the back story of her three decades of stories here. Guest bloggers and fellow News-Herald staffers also periodically share details of their trips.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Off switch for takeoff and landing may soon be on

The blissful disconnectness once seatbelts are fastened is likely to end soon, as more airlines bring wi-fi to the skies. Now, after a year of study, an advisory committee has recommended that the FAA relax its rules about requiring devices to be turned off once the aircraft’s doors have closed and again at landing. . And flight attendants have reported that they’re often ignored when they tell passengers to turn off their devices
Some experts say there’s no evidence that the iPads, mobile phones and other electronic devices can interfere with the operation or navigation of an aircraft.
Reading e-books and watching movies loaded onto tablets is permitted once an aircraft has reached 10,000 feet.
But electronic devices also must  be turned off again once the aircraft descends for landing. “This means anything with an on and off switch,” said my flight attendant, leaning into my row to clarify as I raised my cellphone to the window to snap a photo as my United flight prepared to land at Washington Dulles.
 But for now flying away is a time without tweets, emails, instagrams, or other manifestations of our strange age.
Without their constant presence I at first feel deprived without my electronics
Then I settle in to embrace being en route, an appropriately French term for the state I’ve entered to reach Paris.
It’s near nirvana to tuck away the smart phone, tablet, notepad as we  rise above the highways, road signs, traffic jams, cubicles of an earthbound infrastructure. They grow ever smaller then soon are lost as we rise above the clouds.
Cloud contemplation fills the void left by the absence of incessant  texts, tweets and other synonyms for engagement with audiences real and imagined. It’s nice to really be in the here and now.


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