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Frequent fliers applaud FAA electronics ruling

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TYLER (KYTX) -

The FAA on Thursday announced new policies for the use of so-called personal electronic devices from gate to gate on United States-based airlines.

After years of research and debate, the organization concluded that modern devices like MP3 players, e-readers and cell phones do not pose a risk to airliners at any point during a flight--assuming the devices are in flight mode. Laptops are still in a separate category based on their size and must be stowed for takeoff and landing.

"I pretty much have all the technology that's out there," frequent flier Randy Mensinger said as he was leaving the Tyler airport Thursday afternoon.

It was Mensinger's ninth airport to visit in less than a week. He said for a road warrior like himself, technology is everything.

"I work off my phone," Mensinger said. "I travel for business pretty much every where, every day. So, having to turn it off, obviously I can't keep in contact with my clients."

Going forward, the dreaded announcements regarding keeping electronics turned off below 10,000 feet should be a thing of the past, even if there are a few exceptions.

"Every passenger must follow crew member instructions," FAA Administrator Michael Huerta said. "If a captain asks you to shut off a device, it's for a good reason."

It is up to individual airlines to decide how to implement a loosened version of their existing rules.

"In some instances of low visibility--about 1% of all flights--some landing systems will not be able to tolerate the interference," Huerta said.

Because of varied fleets and procedures, airlines will submit their own plans for FAA approval before allowing passengers like Mensinger to ditch the off switch for good, which he said will help business.

"[It will let me be] more diligent in getting back to my customers whenever they reach out to me," Mensinger said. 

Delta Air Lines and JetBlue Airways are locked in a race to be first to allow the use of electronics from gate to gate, having issued competing announcements within an hour of the FAA's decision.

American Airlines and United Airlines, which serve Tyler, have not commented on their plans.

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