Q: I don’t understand why it’s okay to read a regular book during take off and landing, but I have to turn off my Nook?

A: This is a great question because I get to express how much I hate asking passengers to turn off their Kindles and Nooks. But, here’s the deal Kindles and Nooks are electronic devices. You may think it’s silly but right now there is no distinction between the different types of electronic devices that must be turned off below 10,000 feet. So, for now you’ll need to keep the e-book off until your flight attendant makes the announcement that you’ve reached 10,000 feet.

Q: Why did the flight attendant on my last flight ask me to turn off my phone even when I told her it was in airplane mode?

A: Another common misunderstanding is airplane mode. Airplane mode simply turns off the phone function of your device which is important because “phones” are never allowed to be used at anytime above 10,000 feet. A lot of passengers think that if they put their device in airplane mode that they can keep it on anytime during the flight, keep in mind that all devices no matter what mode need to be off and stowed for taxi, take off and landing. For more information on airplane mode check out my passenger service announcement: airplane mode.

What do you want to know about air travel? Send your questions to [email protected]. You can also follow the conversation and ask your questions at Facebook/theflyingpintoblog or Twitter/theflyingpinto.

A big thank you to Passenger Holly for sharing this picture of her inflight on her Nook! You can find more pics and musings from Holly at blog Greek Yogurt and Apple Sauce.



  1. I am also a Kindle user. So long as it is not having the wireless on, there is simply NO difference between that and a paperback. While I understand that for now to expedite cabin checks it is easier to just say 100% of anything with a switch has to be off, I disagree. Mythbusters tested just about every kind of device for interference and found it to be a non factor. If the real reason they want electronics off is to minimize distractions in an emergency, say it that way.

  2. Call me old fashioned, but I listen to the Flight Attendants. If I am asked to do something on a flight, I do it. I follow the instructions. I don’t trying to hide things or find my way around things. I don’t know why people don’t do the same. Why not just spend a couple hours disconnected. Life will pick up right where you left it.

    Lyle – I would be interested in seeing that episode of mythbusters. Since you seem so direct with your response, I trust that they were in an actual cockpit in an actual airplane with actual passengers doing these tests.

  3. Yes, 100% is easier but more importantly right now, it’s the law. It has more to do with your attention during take off and landing than interference for some devices.(Though there are devices that cause interference especially if enough of them are on at once) The law has not kept up with current items. Also understand we as airline employees are there for your and everyone’s safety.

  4. @Lyle – I think you’ve just managed to reaffirm every flight attendants frustration with pax over electronic devices. They’re not enforcing the rule through any behind the scenes requirement by the airline, they’re enforcing them because it’s an FAA requirement. So, spare a thought for them, turn off your device and wait the 15 minutes it takes to get up to 10,000 ft. As a regular passenger, one of my biggest annoyances is when other pax think they know better than an FA and start questioning the rules. Everyone knows that a kindle likely doesn’t interfere, but until the FAA says it’s ok turn if off when they ask.

  5. @Lyle Orr-When the wireless signal of any wireless transmitting device is turned off/disabled- your device is still electronic.

    Use this rule of thumb: If it has batteries in it or requires any sort of electricity to function and is not a wristwatch or medical equipment- POWER it completely off until the FAA decides you can use it.

    If you don’t like turning off your Kindle- take that up with the FAA. Don’t shoot the messenger. Flight Attendants are required to inform you what the FAA tells us we have to inform you of.

  6. Actually, a standard “non color” ebook eink reader needs no electricity until it comes time to refresh the page. Batteries could be completely dead .. removed even.. and it will display the page.

    HOWEVER, when it comes to turning the page, it needs (a minute amount) of electricity to display the new text.

    SO, I suppose you could argue that you could only read that one page until you get to 10,000 feet.

  7. Cell phones don’t pick up cell towers when flying in a plane. First your much higher than a cell tower another reason is your traveling at 500 mph so your phone can’t stay locked onto a single tower your phone call will dropped.

  8. It’s just a silly little requirement put in by a non-tech savvy FAA; there is NO reason behind it. If there was, we’d be required to turn off our wristwatches as well – they’re every bit as electronic as a kindle. And if they claim it’s a distraction thing, why are in flight magazines provided?

    As for me, I don’t bother turning my kindle off, I just close the cover when the FA is near me.

  9. @Lyle Orr and @Brent…

    You sound like the typical sandbox bullies that think YOUR way is the only way and it’s because of people like YOU that it’s all devices turned off wether it’s a phone or a Kindle. If more people had decency and some common sense, then we would not need all of these rules.”Sigh”

    As far as the phones are concerned and whatever other devices are able to reach FaceBook, Twitter and text messaging, YES they do cause a problem and YES you will go right back to the gate if you mess it all up. I was working a flight last month where the captain called us Pissed Off to no end. Their entire heading was wiped out just after take off.

    In case you don’t know what that is, it is the information that the pilots enter into their computer systems that tells the aircraft and everyone involved where we are to go based on the flight release, ground control and yes, paper maps. If it goes away, the aircraft will no longer be scheduled on a predetermined course.

    He almost turned us around, went back to the gate and kicked off the three people that we found out sent a text message right as we were taking off. WTF! Like you don’t have enough time before we actually reach the active taxi way???

    I have had the crew call me and literally tell me that their screens are blanking out in certain parts only to go back in the cabin and find people trying to use their phones!

    Do we really need to collect these items as you board just because you cannot control yourself? Is it really that big of a deal to turn the damn thing off for a little while?

    If YOU cannot follow the rules that are there for our safety wether they are “stupid” or not, then do us all a favor and drive! At least I’ll be in a plane so you don’t crash into me when you’re texting while you drive.

  10. Kindles are EXTREMELY low power. They don’t affect ANYTHING. Someone has a stupid rule – no electronic devices during take-off and stupid people blindly enforce it. Even more stupid people, like Christina Baita say things like

    “If YOU cannot follow the rules that are there for our safety…”

    suggesting they shouldn’t be granted the privelege of living in a democracy because such people lack the moral courage and wit to challenge idiotic abuses of authority. Most “security” rules are for the benefit of Airport and airline employees and rarely have anything to do with safety or security.

    Rules are there for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.

  11. @Christina Baita

    Cell phones have no effect on the plane what-so-ever this has been proven and this is why FAA is considering letting people, at the least, text during flights.

    The entire electronics deal is a hang over from the early days of flying. People tend to forget that the biggest electronic devices on the plane are the engines which surprisingly enough only effect the navigation system if they are turned off ;).

    TO me if it is a rule adhere to it, however always good to dispel inaccuracies in peoples thoughts.

  12. So, you’re a flight attendant. You ask me to shut off my Kindle. I do. And yet, it continues displaying an image on the screen…usually a picture of a random author. And the amount of power required to display this image is the same as the amount required to display a page for me to read. Because on an e-ink display (key word there is e-ink, which is NOT what nook COLOR or Kindle FIRE models use), power is only consumed to *change* what is on the screen; NO power is consumed to persist the current image on the screen.

    Not only this, but I think maybe the LED doesn’t even turn off when it’s “off”, it just changes color, but I haven’t used my Kindle in awhile so I could be remembering that wrong.

    So if you ask me to turn it off, instead, I should be able to turn off any wireless communication modes (though I’m not sure it even is possible to do that for the 3G models, even when the whole thing is “off”), quickly finish the page I’m on, go to the next page, and for all intents and purposes it is now just as “off” as it is going to be if I turn it “off”. And I can get one more page of reading in during take off.

    But all of this will be over the heads of 99% of people, you might as well be speaking in tongues…so it is better to just shut it “off” and keep your spite to yourself — rather than risk being cavity-searched and sent to jail for “suspicious”/”aggressive” behavior when you try to assert the truth.

  13. @Christina Baita

    Looks like you got a flack for your post but I understand where you are coming from as a flight attendant. I dont blame you for enforcing the rules. But I disagree with all of your justification.

    I am by no means an expert in how electrical signals propagate and interact within an environment such as plane but I think I could speak intelligently about it with your average flight attendant and/or pilot. Your real life “anecdotes” on the problems that electronic devices have allegedly caused on planes are just that – anecdotal. It is not good policy to design rules around anecdotal evidence. One of the reasons, which I think applies here, is that single instances can seem very convincing without shedding any light on cause and effect. I bet you could check every cabin of every plane just after takeoff and find that 99% of the time someone left their cell phone or ipod on. I many many devices in my home, which are much closer in frequency range, but I rarely have a screen black out when I send a text. Again, I am not an electrical engineer but I am knowledge on the basic principle and I am just thinking through the logic. Unless you and/or your pilots are experts I find it troubling that you would come to such conclusions so quickly.

    At the end of the day the risk of causing catastrophic failures with the use of consumer electronic devices on an airplane are very minimal. The information is out there – it is not a mystery. It is akin to making the speed limit on the highway 25mph because its safer. If everyone just followed it blindly…..well I think we would have a lot more problems in this country. But we would be safer on the road.

    This is a stupid rule. In all sense of the word. But if you think that rules regarding safety should be exempt from being not “stupid” then I can’t argue with your logic. I dont have much hope that our politicians are capable or even interested in making any change, positive or negative, that doesnt result in a short term political gain. We need to educate ourselves so we can direct our government. Dont rely on the government to educate you.

    “Believe nothing, no matter where you read it, or who said it, no matter if I have said it, unless it agrees with your own reason and your own common sense.”

  14. Hahaha! Did not proofread that. Sounds retarded.

  15. The Flying Pinto @ 2011-12-08 21:32

    @Teja The point is, we (flight attendants) are not justifying anything. It is our job (period) to inform passengers of the rules (FAR’s) and enforce when not complied with. Doesn’t matter whether we agree or disagree. It’s definitely not important enough an issue for me to argue with the FAA on how I feel about it…I have better causes that I am interested in:) And, I agree with your quote from Buddha.

  16. Do flight attendents stay on the plane the while time ?