Airlines race to allow devices during flights

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Airlines are vying to be the first to allow their passengers to use electronic uses during the entire length of flights under new rules that were announced Thursday by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

The FAA said it was moving to allow airline passengers to keep their portable electronic devices from "gate-to-gate," as long as they are used in airplane mode.

Current rules prohibit passengers from using any electronic devices when airplanes are taking off and landing. 

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JetBlue Chief Commercial Officer Robin Hayes said her airline had taken steps to be the first airline to implement the new electronic rules.

"The rules have caught up with today's technology," Hayes said in a statement. "This new policy vastly improves our customers' experience, and giving everyone a chance to be more connected is good for business. We intend to be the first commercial airline in the United States to allow gate-to-gate use of personal electronics devices. To support that goal, we began the certification process with the FAA today."

JetBlue might have competition in the race to allow expanded electronic use from Delta Airlines, which said on Thursday that it could implement the rule change as early as Friday.

"We appreciate the FAA's collaboration with the industry to define a path for enabling the safe use of portable electronic devices below 10,000 feet," Delta Senior Vice President of In-Flight Service Joanne Smith said in a statement. "The Delta team is committed to always working to make flying better and thanks to their efforts our customers are the first to be able to use their devices throughout their entire flight."

The FAA said on Thursday that the implementation of the new relaxed electronic rules would "vary among airlines" due to "differences among fleets and operations."

But officials said they expect that all airlines will allow passengers to keep their electronics on at all times during flights by the end of the year.