In 2013 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) overturned a longstanding ban on using electronic devices during takeoff and landing. While the rest of us were thrilled, the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) was less than pleased. In 2014 they filed a lawsuit arguing that the FAA overstepped its authority. The AFA argued that passengers are too busy playing with their electronics to pay attention to pre-flight safety warnings. Additionally, they stated that electronic devices could become dangerous projectiles if a flight experiences turbulence. The FAA countered, stating electronic devices are no more harmful than books, which have always been permitted for use during takeoff and landing.
On Friday, the U.S. Court of Appeals in D.C. ruled against the AFA and dismissed the lawsuit. Ultimately, the court determined the FAA did not overstep its authority:
The guidance offered in Notice N8900.240 reflects nothing more than a statement of agency policy or an interpretive rule. The Notice is therefore unreviewable. The Notice does not impose any obligation or prohibition on regulated entities.
The court also took note of the following:
It is uncontested by the parties that airlines do not force passengers to stow small items like keys, smartphones, or books in approved carry-on baggage locations like overhead bins or under the seat. Instead, passengers are generally allowed to hold such items in hand, on their laps, or in clothes pockets.
Just remember, even though you’re free to play Candy Crush or watch Game of Thrones throughout your flight, you’re still prohibited from making calls or sending texts. If you want to read the entire decision, you can find it here.