Responding to the incident in which Alec Baldwin was kicked off his flight for refusing to shut down his cell phone,’s pilot columnist Patrick Smith has written a column about the question of interference from electronic devices—including e-readers—on takeoff. Much of it is about what you would expect—while it hasn’t been proven that cellphones are a flight danger, airlines choose to err on the side of caution. But I did find interesting the part that specifically addresses e-readers:

As for the restrictions pertaining to computers, iPods and certain other devices during takeoffs and landings, this has nothing to do with electronic interference. In theory, a poorly shielded notebook computer can emit harmful energy, but the main reason laptops need to be put away is to prevent them from becoming high-speed projectiles in the event of an impact or sudden deceleration, and from hampering an evacuation. Your computer is a piece of luggage, and luggage needs to be stowed so it doesn’t kill somebody or get in the way. The same holds for iPads and Kindles. Sure, a book can weigh as much as a Kindle, but this is where the line is drawn.

(Found via BoingBoing.)


  1. i’d be more ok with this if they made people put away books, too. sure “this is where the line is drawn”, but a projectile is a projectile, if that’s the line they are going to take.

  2. In other words, a lot of other things should be put away since they can be projectiles too. And how does this explain that what the airlines require is for the electronic stuffs to be TURNED OFF and NOT PUT or STOWED AWAY?

  3. Bara, the last time I flew, the stewards did tell us to “stow all items” during takeoff and landing. So they consider even a printed book to be a projectile.

    An ABC report cited an incident when a flight went haywire, and control wasn’t recovered until the crew made sure all electronic items were off. Though essentially an anecdotal report, apparently the FAA said, “that’s enough for us.”

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