Wish you could play with your gadgets in the air? Passengers will now be able to use their electronic devices on board select flights from the moment they step on the plane to the moment they step off. Virgin Australia and Qantas are the first two Australian airline carriers to get approval from CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) to roll out these new changes in a bid to enhance the in-flight customer experience. The new rules apply to popular electronic devices such as mobile phones, tablets, small game consoles, music players, laptops and e-book readers.
There are a few catches to note though. Transmitting devices such as mobile phones and iPads will need to remain in flight mode, and items heavier than one kilogram, such as laptops, will need to be stowed away for take-off and landing. Any passengers boarding or disembarking via the tarmac will also still be required to switch off devices for safety reasons until they are inside the plane or airport terminal.
While the move has so far been adopted by just two Australian airlines, other carriers are not far behind. Jetstar, Qantaslink and Tigerair are in the final stages of preparing submissions to CASA. Right now though, travellers can enjoy more freedom (and entertainment) on board domestic and international Qantas flights, as well as domestic flights with Virgin Australia on their Boeing 737, Embraer 190 and Airbus A330 aircraft. Outside of Australia, some airlines in the United States, Europe and New Zealand already allow passengers to leave their phones on throughout the flight.
Virgin Australia and Qantas are also leading the way with their in-flight entertainment apps. The Virgin Australia Entertainment App allows travellers to stream hundreds of hours of movies, TV shows, music and more on select flights, as long as you’ve downloaded the app onto your smartphone, tablet or laptop prior to boarding. Similarly, Qantas now offers hours of entertainment on board select flights with its Q Streaming app, which is being rolled out progressively across the fleet. They also provide free iPads for every seat on selected B767 and B717 aircraft, so even travellers without their own electronic devices can make the most of this new gate-to-gate flexibility!
Our Top Tips
• Pay special attention to announcements about electronic devices prior to boarding and during safety briefings.
• Check your flight and vessel prior to check-in to see if these new changes apply to you.
• Make sure your electronic devices are fully charged prior to boarding.
• Don’t rely on power points being available at the airport to charge devices.
• Download in-flight entertainment apps well in advance to make sure you don’t miss out.