Kulula now allowing phones and other electronic devices to be used for the entire flight

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I love flying, as it’s by far the most convenient form of long-distance travel, even between big South Africa metropolises. It’s not just the shortened travel time that allows it to beat out driving (and these days often cheaper too), but also an opportunity for me to unwind and use the time to relax, read, play games and listen to music in the process.

What I don’t like about flying is having to switch off my cellphone before taxi, take-off and landing which requires me to then be bored for those 20 minutes of a flight and potentially engage with others. Not a good idea for either me or the other passengers. This is made more annoying because there is no actual technical reason for it and airlines are simply following an age-old protocol that was based on fears rather than scientific evidence that cellphones will disrupt cockpit instrumentation.

Thankfully one local airline, Kulula is coming to their senses and stopping this ridiculous practice as they’ve announced that moving forward passengers can use their “portable electronic devices during all phases of their flight journey”. As Kulula’s head of marketing, Shaun Pozyn, in the official statement (via TechCentral):

three unidentifiable people using different smart devices while seated in airplane seat, view of hands/arms only

We have worked very closely with the South African Aviation authority to approve this new policy on our aircraft, which is a significant enhancement to our customer experience on board. In short, this means that passengers can now use their devices as soon as they set foot on board our aircraft and keep them on for their entire journey.

The airline still requires devices to be in “flight mode” or essentially have their cellular connections switched off, but it’s a great step forward in this regard.  Heavier devices like laptops will still need to be stowed in overhead bins or under seats during take-off and landing as these items “could impede evacuation of an aircraft or may injure you or someone else in the event of turbulence or an accident”. For phones, music players and more important handheld gaming devices, you’re free to use the entire journey, though it perhaps goes without saying that it’s probably not a good idea to be glued to your screens while trying to get on or off your flight.

Let’s hope other airlines can follow suit and we can eventually stop hearing those annoying messages asking passengers to switch off their devices in future.

Last Updated: June 21, 2019