Flight Attendants Lost Their Tantrum Suit To Keep Bitching About Our Electronic Devices On Flights

from the awwwwww dept

Perhaps, like me, you've never really understood the curious ban some airflights and airlines have had on mobile and electronic devices during flights, take-offs, and landings. Perhaps, like our Jefe, Mike Masnick, you've dismissed the requests from flight attendants that those devices be fully powered down out of hand, because you too are a rebel the likes for which this world is wholly unprepared. And maybe you too cheered when the FAA summarily dismissed these silly rules way back in 2013, thinking that the madness of a few moments without our favorite devices had finally come to an end.

But then, as you may know, the Association of Flight Attendants sued the FAA in order to retain the ability to lord over your smart-phones, tablets, and computers on flights. Notably, the AFA's filing made essentially zero claims having anything to do with the safety of electronic devices on the flights. Instead, their argument centered on whether the power to decide whether flight attendants could treat passengers like children who hadn't finished their vegetables resided with the FAA, or if the AFA should have some input.

Well, the court has ruled and has firmly told the AFA and flight attendants to go dangle.

In this case, it really does not matter whether Notice N8900.240 is viewed as a policy statement or an interpretive rule. The main point here is that the Notice is not a legislative rule carrying “the force and effect of law.” Perez, 135 S. Ct. at 1204. A legislative rule “modifies or adds to a legal norm based on the agency’s own authority” flowing from a congressional delegation to engage in supplementary lawmaking. Syncor, 127 F.3d at 95.
That's court-speak for "nice try, now go away." Of course the FAA can make changes to flight rules as it pleases and, when it comes to the use of devices the ban for which has always been cast in the light of flight-safety, an association for flight attendants ought to have about as much input as a doctor's receptionist should have on medical policy. This tantrum of a suit, which is all it ever was, has been dismissed and we are finally free to play Angry Birds during takeoff. Free at last, free at last.

More seriously, it's somewhat nice to see some aspect of security theater being done away with regarding anything to do with airplanes and flights. If we could just take this same tact with the rest of airport security, we'd be making a world of improvements.

Filed Under: airplane mode, devices, faa, flight attendants, lawsuit


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 4:40am

    If we could just take this same tact with the rest of airport security, we'd be making a world of improvements.

    Oh expect the TSA to sue to retain the ability to lord over your cavities bully disabled people and those that have special needs along with other 'minorities' (while swearing it's not racial profiling). No, can't have their tools to show their full contempt for all passengers taken away.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2015 @ 6:10am

    Welcome to Amerika

    Where you need to fucking do as your are told.

    Do not let your children out on their own, CPS will steal them from you and the rest of us will not fucking care.

    Do not assert your rights to Cops, Judges, or DA's, they will treat you even more like a criminal and the rest of us will not fucking care.

    Do not buy a plane ticket because you will lose every last 4th amendment right you 'think' you have 'cus terrorism'. You will be treated like human trash, fined, or taken to jail and the rest of us will not fucking care.

    Land of the coward and home of the civil slave!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2015 @ 6:59am

    Flight Attendant is your Mom

    If you don't eat yer meat, you can't have any pudding. How can you have any pudding if you don't eat yer meat?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2015 @ 8:31am

      Re: Flight Attendant is your Mom

      Oh, well...
      But in the town, it was well known when they got home at night, their fat and psychopathic wives would thrash them
      within inches of their lives.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        ltlw0lf (profile), 14 May 2015 @ 10:03am

        Re: Re: Flight Attendant is your Mom

        Oh, well...

        Great, now Roger Waters is going to come in here and complain about Techdirt being a gallery of rogues, stealing his precious (work) without even so much as an attribution. Those hobbits, always stealing the precious.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Violynne (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 7:09am

    Re: Work from HOME with gourmet scented

    In other words, watch my money go up in smoke.


    (sorry, couldn't help but feed this post - comic opportunities are hard to find)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      tqk (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 7:22am

      Re: Re: Work from HOME with gourmet scented

      Look on the bright side. We'll never need to care about this silly thing again. Done, done, and done. On top of that, perhaps the membership of the AFA is looking askance at its union reps thinking, "You jerks made us look like idiots in this!?!" Perhaps a bit of turnover in the list of reps is in order.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    PRMan, 13 May 2015 @ 7:39am

    Tantrum Suit

    I was about halfway through this article still thinking the "tantrum suit" was the straightjacket they put unruly passengers in. I thought they were willing to give up that straightjacket so they could continue to harass people about their electronics.

    Then it hit me: "Oh, lawsuit..."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2015 @ 7:39am

    now if they could just reinstate the rule that let me bring on my small swiss army knife that the flight attendants cried about a few years back that would be great.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Thewlyn Oh, 14 May 2015 @ 5:24am

      Re: blades?

      I thought they passed a new rule/law (whatev) where you could carry a small knife on board if the blade was less than 2 1/2 inches or something similar...might need some help on this one though...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    spod, 13 May 2015 @ 7:49am

    To be fair about this one....

    There *were* legitimate concerns about mobile phones' electronic interference, enough to justify banning them.

    BUT
    those concerns have proven to be groundless, so the rule got dropped.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2015 @ 9:51am

      Re:

      Some phones can and still do interfere with audio equipment. From some older pilots i've talked to cell phones could interfere with instruments on the dash in SMALL aircraft (like 2 seaters).

      The biggest farce about the whole thing is that the range of interference has always been more or less limited to a few feet. There is about 0 chance of interfering with the cockpit instruments with a cell phone from the back of a 747...

      I once got told on an asian airline that if i didn't turn off my cell phone the cell tower would direct interference to the plane. As if the cell tower could somehow pinpoint my phone at 30 000 feet and direct a laser like beam of microwaves straight at me... They also told me this as we were somewhere over the middle of the pacific ocean. That seemed to be the justification of why mobile phones were banned for the entirety of the 13 hour flight.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 10:16am

      Re:

      The original reasons for the ban weren't related to possible interference, but because cell companies asked for it. They were concerned that lots of cell phones being handed off between towers too quickly would cause problems with the cell network.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        JP Jones (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 2:03pm

        Re: Re:

        This. That's why the restriction was made by the FCC, not the FAA. It basically relates to spectrum use when you have cell phones moving rapidly between cell towers.

        Honestly, at this point, we restrict electronic devices for the same reason you wear those ridiculous lead bibs when getting an x-ray at the dentist. Modern dental x-rays produce less radiation than walking around outside for a day or a few hours flying on an airplane; the "protection" is entirely for show. Why? People would get nervous if you suddenly didn't need it anymore, and rather than explain it over and over, they hand you the stupid bib.

        If we think about it logically, if the electromagnetic field of a bunch of handheld electronic devices is such an issue, why are airlines replacing flight manuals with iPads? After all, those are right next to all your instruments, and presumably would be able to be referenced during flight.

        Never mind. If I bothered to try and keep track of every stupid thing we do because someone thought it was a good idea, regardless of a complete lack of evidence, I'd never think about anything else.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • icon
          Uriel-238 (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 4:11pm

          This does remind me of when my teacher refused to let me word-process a report...

          On the basis that she believed word-processing technology would write the report for me with the touch of a button.

          We just fear the threat of disrupting technology.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 13 May 2015 @ 8:54am

    Not that I agree with the flight attendants in any way, but wouldn't it be within their power (assuming they are so empowered by the airline) to demand that electronic devices are turned off during takeoff/landing, even without a FAA rule to back it up?

    A movie theater can say "No drinks allowed that aren't purchased from our concession stand," for example, so why couldn't an airline say, "No Angry Birds during takeoff?"

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 9:53am

      This won't stop the behavior, just the legitimacy / justification of that behavior.

      So when an attendant forces you to turn off your Kindle during take-off, you still have to do it, but you can acknowledge he (or the airline behind him) is just being a pushy dick.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 12:05pm

      Re:

      Except the allowance has to be sought by each airline in turn. So, in effect, if you can do it, its because the airline specificly sought out the ability to allow you to do so. So its doubtful the airline would empower its flight attendants to shut the devices down.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Brad, 13 May 2015 @ 10:29am

    Give them some credit... not much, but some.

    I think there is an aspect of electronic device use that is a safety issue which is unrelated to electronic interference and that's passenger attentiveness. If I'm in a window seat and the person in the isle seat can't figure out how to evacuate quickly in the event of an accident because he/she had their headphones on and their face in an iPad, that's a safety issue.
    Similarly, the most dangerous portions of a flight are during takeoff and landing and it's important passengers be able to respond to verbal commands in the event of an emergency during those times.
    To that end, the AFA has every right to weigh in on polices that affect their member's ability to perform their primary role, herding cats in an emergency.
    To borrow Tim's (poor) medical analogy, it's like the nurses association saying we need to keep medical waiting rooms quiet because it gets in the way of the real work being done in the back office.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      John Fenderson (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 10:36am

      Re: Give them some credit... not much, but some.

      "If I'm in a window seat and the person in the isle seat can't figure out how to evacuate quickly in the event of an accident because he/she had their headphones on and their face in an iPad, that's a safety issue."

      But that's hardly unique to electronic devices, so it would be a bit odd for that to be a reason for the ban.

      Also, if there's an actual emergency in progress, I seriously doubt that anyone would continue to be absorbed by their audio feed. They'd be too busy freaking out.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Well no..., 14 May 2015 @ 6:02am

        Re: Re: Give them some credit... not much, but some.

        These days everyone would be taking selfies in the emergency, trying to get a shot of themselves in front of the gaping hole in the fuselage or whatever it was....

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      James Burkhardt (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 12:03pm

      Re: Give them some credit... not much, but some.

      but if I was reading a paper book, or a magazine or a newspaper (as I did back when I wasn't allowed to listen to an audio book) instead of a Kindle your supposed safety problem still exists, but the ban on electronics does nothing. But airlines do not ban these things during take-off/landing.

      The assertion that somehow because it is electronic its a safety issue doesn't hold up under scrutiny, because you bring up devices that can and do replicate non-electronics.

      It similar to cell phone bans. The ban handling the cell phone, not its use. Because talking on the cell phone is analogous to talking to a person sitting next to you, and they dont ban that.

      Your big concerns actually appear to be with headphones. which if they are a serious safety threat could be handled with a narrowly tailored policy. But thats not what the AFA wanted. They wanted, on proceedural grounds, to 'roll back the rules to october 2013'.

      While they stated they objected to the rule on safety grounds, they fought it on proceedural grounds. And the court has ruled that proceedure was followed.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Brad, 13 May 2015 @ 2:06pm

        Re: Re: Give them some credit... not much, but some.

        I'm not claiming they are consistent about addressing the issue of distracted passengers during takeoff, landing and the saftey briefing. I think they should be consistent. But, to say that because they don't address all aspects of a safety issue, doesn't mean that the issue they do focus on is unimportant.

        This is a lot like the cell phone's while driving issue. It's not really about talking or texting, it's about distracted driving. I personally think laws that focus on cell phones miss the point of addressing distracted driving, but I don't fault organizations that get fixated on the cell phones because I think ultimately, some change is better than nothing.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        MrTroy (profile), 13 May 2015 @ 9:25pm

        Re: Re: Give them some credit... not much, but some.

        but if I was reading a paper book, or a magazine or a newspaper (as I did back when I wasn't allowed to listen to an audio book) instead of a Kindle your supposed safety problem still exists, but the ban on electronics does nothing. But airlines do not ban these things during take-off/landing.

        I've actually been on a flight where I was told not to read during takeoff. Can't remember where it was now, but I was simultaneously annoyed, and impressed that at least they were being consistent.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Chris Beck, 13 May 2015 @ 3:14pm

    The lack of evidence for the rule annoyed me. The people sitting next to me who thought they knew better and wanted to be special f*cking snowflakes who didn't have to turn off their phone annoyed me a hell of a lot more.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anon Y. Mouse, 13 May 2015 @ 10:58pm

    One little thing

    If we could just take this same tact with the rest of airport security

    Uh, that's "tack," not "tact."

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    some law talking guy, 14 May 2015 @ 5:37am

    Actually, you completely missed the point, and you'll regret it later.

    I personally can't stand flight attendants, and the power down rule is stupid, but your post is just as stupid because you completely missed that the court actually ruled that FAA can reimpose rules like the power down rule WITHOUT ANY PUBLIC INPUT OR REVIEW. You see, when federal agencies want to impose "legislative rules," forcing you to do things, they have to do so through public notice and comment. The agency is then bound to listen to comments and address them, or they are subject to legal challenge. (Though pretty ineffective, occasionally these challenges are successful.). The DC Circuit just gave FAA a blank check on this issue, saying they can do whatever they want, without listening to you or anyone trying to protect you, because this wasn't really a final agency action or rulemaking subject to review. In other words, the court just ruled that if FAA wants to ban your Kindle for 100% of every flight, there isn't a damn thing you can do about it.

    So yes, you should feel like a dummy for cheering a court stripping you of the very rights you are worked up about.

    (Expect more of this, Obama has stacked the DC Circuit with a majority of Dem appointees now, it's the most liberal court of appeals in the country, and it has jurisdiction over almost every federal agency rulemaking.)

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Uriel-238 (profile), 14 May 2015 @ 10:33am

      Re: Actually, you completely missed the point, and you'll regret it later.

      The same way Bush stacked SCOTUS with Catholicsm ergo the Hobby Lobby ruling?

      Getting to stack the courts is part of the job of the President.

      Partisan politics are neither the cause of nanny states nor overreaches of authority, including the FAA and finger-wagging flight attendants.

      Personally, the TSA has been keeping me off the planes for years, even when I understand the slight increase of safety risk.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Buck Wheaton, 14 May 2015 @ 7:06am

    Federalize everything

    Let us not forget that it was Senator Charles Schumer (D, NY) who scolded us after 9/11 that we must federalize the airport security function so that employees would be "more professional".

    Thank you Senator. Let us never forget the favor you did for Americans for generations yet to come.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    David, 14 May 2015 @ 10:32am

    4th Amendment

    It was never really enough for the TSA busy-bodies and their enablers to be able to go to a special court and have their way with us, stewardesses have be bossy, too. Oh, did I forget to put a trigger warning on my comment.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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