June 2, 2014 1:47 pm

Airline passengers now allowed to use electronics during entire flight

CALGARY- Canadian flyers will no longer have to power down their cell phone or tablet on board, thanks to new rules from Transport Canada.

Effective as of Monday, WestJet guests will be allowed access to personal electronic devices (PEDs) during their entire flight. Previously, passengers had to turn off electronics during takeoff and landing.

Air Canada has also gone ahead with the change, which went into effect last Wednesday.

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The change comes just one week after Transport Canada announced an exemption for airlines, providing safety standards were met.

READ MORE: Can a cell phone bring down an airplane?

“We have been hard at work to meet all necessary conditions required for the safe operation of PEDs on board our Boeing Next-Generation 737 aircraft,” said WestJet’s Bob Cummings, in a statement.

Passengers must ensure their devices are in airplane mode, and data is not being transmitted or received.

Therefore, as of right now, you can only watch previously-downloaded movies, listen to music, or do work on office programs like Microsoft Word.

However, a day with in-flight internet is not that far away.

WestJet will be testing its new in-flight WiFi system in September and phase it into all of its planes in the next 18 months.

Air Canada just started testing and will have 130 planes up and working by the end of next year.

“If you look today, three-quarters of our guests are carrying some sort of device with them while they’re on the aircraft,” said WestJet’s Richard Bartrem.

Most passengers would welcome the change.

“Being able to definitely get on social networking and stuff like that while you’re in the air would be nice,” said one traveller.

“When it’s my tablet, I like to use it to read, but it would be nice to be able to surf the internet or play games or stuff like that on it,” added another.

When the WiFi systems are in place, passengers will be able to access the internet, text, send email, watch on-demand and pay-per-view movies, and watch live TV streamed through the internet.

However, there are no current plans to allow fliers to make phone calls during the flight.

© Shaw Media, 2014

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