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Rules are there for a reason (sometimes). But laptop from gate through takeoff? Really?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

guy in 1a slc to phx laptop on from gate to takeoff
Is this really OK? You tell me!

I know personal electronic device rules are all over the place; don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that we are now able to use small devices like a phone or a tablet from gate to gate but just what is that small size nowadays.

What I mean is that many tablets now have a keyboard. Sure you can fold them away and they look just like a tablet and are OK-ish to be used and held from gate to gate. But there are limits. Clearly.

man doing code slc to phx renespoints blog
Is this THAT important? You tell me!

On my flight to the Arizona Boneyard, that is, our flight from Salt Lake City to Phoenix, the man in 1A (of all seats) had his laptop out as soon as he sat down at the gate and never stopped “coding” as we taxied out, took off, and about half way through the flight.

Is this really OK?

Oh and this was not a tiny laptop either. Plus, since he was in the bulkhead row, he should not have had a laptop out anyway as it cannot be put under the seat during takeoff (yes I think no laptops in the setback is dumb but still).

Before you ask, the flight attendant did not seem to notice the man still had his laptop out but there has to be some personal responsibility to listen when a crew member tells you it is time to put it away (I know I do).

From situations like this to folks who never turn off their cell phones to any number of other rule breakers all clearly think “they” are above the rules and they don’t apply to them. Is there risk to us for what they are doing?  I really don’t know as that is not my area of expertise.

I guess I would love your input on this. Is this, or half of the other rules I have mentioned, OK to break? Are there good reasons for them or are they out of date? – René



Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

René de Lambert is a contributing writer and the founder of RenesPoints. He is an avid Delta and SkyTeam flyer who has held Delta’s top Diamond Medallion status for many years and flown millions of miles.


  1. A laptop (particularly what looks to be an all-metal Macbook) is potentially a deadly projectile during takeoff or landing (when the most Gs are felt). It’s a good rule that actually has a purpose, unlike so many others.

    FA should be reported for not doing their job. I would have said something.

  2. If there is extreme turbulence, the laptop could become a projectile that if it struck someone, especially in the head, could cause injury. So from this POV I feel the rule is reasonable.


  3. Tablets may remain out during takeoff and landing but laptops and DVD players, because of their greater mass must be stowed. The rule however may need to be changed in light of new technology. The Apple iPad pro for example is 1.6 times heavier than the iPad Air 2. Of course getting hit in the head with any tablet or smart phone could cause serious injury.

    The rules are in place to protect passengers. I think FAs are quick to cite rule breakers in coach but not so much in the premium cabin.

    I believe we have to take we have to take responsibility for our own safety. When FAs don’t enforce the rules we have an obligation to speak up. If you see something, say something.

  4. @Rene – I’m most irritated by the guy who texts the entire time from pushoff to takeoff. It’s either a rule – or it isn’t. It comes down to the principle – that rules don’t apply to them.

  5. We live in a society with too many “It is all about me” people.
    As noted by several above, all of these can become projectiles in the case of extreme turbulence. I experienced this on a takeoff a few years ago and anything that was loose or even in the seat pockets was flying through the cabin. Very scary,

  6. Just the opposite happened to me. We were held at the gate for Maintenance and I had my Surface Pro open and was typing when one of the FA’s told me to secure my device. I pointed out that we were on a maintenance delay and he got all in my face about the cabin door was closed and “federal law” requires that I obey the instructions of the flight crew. I later overheard him telling one of the other FA’s to keep an eye on the troublemaker in 3B.

  7. I am of the belief that rules are rules.

    Recently I was in an exit row with middle seat open and my row mate was a first time flyer. She asked me tout away my iPad since she just heard the fa make the announcement to put away laptops. I think it’s great she cared to enforce the rules it I explained to her phones and tablets were exempt.

    More frustrating was another flight where an fa demanded I put away my iPad. This was this year (2016). Not like the rule just came out for tablet use. I asked her if the rules had changed and iPads were no longer allowed to use. She said something along the lines of I guess ypu can use it.

    By the way I do it use a keyboard or use a case for my iPad. So, mistaking it for a laptop is not likely for anyone who has ever seen both in person.

  8. I have pointed out to FA these rule breakers so that they can deal with it. After all, that is their job. I do not recommend confronting other pax. By the way, laptops are not allowed in seat pockets during t/o and landing either.

  9. I totally agree! Laptop mit stowed, oversized cabin luggage, … too much tolerated “me not” people. Five minutes ago I was pushed away (I am walking with a stick) in the jetway. Reckless seems to be the new standard….

  10. Of course the guy that perpetrated this act against the rules and common sense would not be reading this excellent blog!

  11. @rene They do need to update their rules (if that is even possible) or folks will increasingly ignore them. The difference between the size, weight and functionality of a iPad Pro, Surface Pro 4 and ultralight and/or convertible laptop is almost impossible to distinguish. Maybe they just need to change it to: If it fits in the seat back pocket you can have it out. If it does not, you can’t have it out during the taxi/take-off process.

    I have a new 12″ MacBook (the one with just a USB-C connection) which is smaller than all below and lighter than all below except the iPad Pro (without keyboard)

    iPad Pro: 1.5 lbs 8.7″x12″ (without keyboard)
    MacBook: 2 lbs 7.8″ x 11″ (with keyboard)
    Surface Pro 4: 2.3 lbs 9.1″ x 12.3″ (without keyboard)
    Surface Book: 3.3 lbs 9.1″ x 12.3″ (with keyboard)

    Why would my MacBook be anymore dangerous than an iPad Pro or Surface Pro 4?

    How would you make a rule except by size and weight or attached keyboard? Could you expect flight attendants to be able to distinguish the the differences between various technologies?

    Are their even standard sizes to seat back pockets?

    I think this is going to be increasingly unenforceable by the airlines.


  12. Anything that cannot be held in one hand should be stowed for landing. Even a 1lb 7 inch tablet can be deadly as a projectile. That said, keeping phones on through takeoff poses no risk as far as I know. But rules are rules

  13. Wow. And in F too! Speaking of F.. I was just offered an upgrade for an outrageous price while checking in on the fly DL app!

  14. There shouldn’t be anything out during takeoff. I don’t like being the jerk but if someone is still talking or working and flight attendant isn’t paying attention, I always loudly ask them to stop. “Can 1B please out the computer away?” If that doesn’t work, hit the call button.

  15. stay off the devices during takeoff DAAA the FA’s should have done something but they try last week they kept saying put in AP mode but people ignored them!!!

  16. I love to fly but I recognize that even with highly skilled pilots in the cockpit, things can go wrong. Airplanes are complex machines operating in environments that are ruthlessly hostile.

    I have my own set of safety rules:

    1. You are ultimately responsible for your own safety.

    2. Recognize that the vast majority of airplane crashes are survivable if you know what to do and you act quickly.

    3. Acknowledge the fact that takeoffs and landings require your full and undivided attention because they pose the greatest risk to flight safety.

    4. Prior to takeoff and landing, stow everything. Anything not stowed can become a deadly missile in a sudden stop. Stow electrical cords as well because they can impede emergency egress.

    5. During take off and landing remove headphones. Listen to the engines. The loud bang of a blown compressor or the sudden silence from an engine resulting from a bird strike will tell you to prepare for an emergency.

    6. Raise window shades at takeoff and landing so that you can spot any dangers that may develop outside the aircraft.

    7. Memorize the location and operation of the nearest exit as well as alternatives. Be able to find them with your eyes closed. Fire is dark. It is not light. The smoke from a fire will make it impossible to see your own hand in front of your face. Expect not to be able to see in a fire.

    8. Whenever given the opportunity, select a seat near an exit.

    9. Insist on sitting together will all family members who are traveling with you.

    10. Wear clothing made from natural fibers. Wool and cotton are relatively slow to burn and could provide life-saving extra seconds to escape a fire. Keep a wool sport coat or sweater at hand as it can serve as a protective hood/mask should you need it.

    And finally, If you see something, say something. If a fellow passenger fails to follow the minimal safety rules set forth by the flight crew, speak up. It could save the lives of others as well as your own.

  17. The “it’s all about me” attitude that people have is so out of control. On my return flight from London yesterday as soon as we landed and stopped on the active runway some idiot got out of his seat and started getting his bags out from the overhead. They had to make an announcement to ask him to sit down. A few min later after we had taxied closer to the terminal, but were clearly still not anywhere near the gate, he did it again. The FA had to get out of her seat and tell the idiot to sit down. I just don’t get why there are so many people that think they are special and the world evolves around them and that nobody else matters by them.

  18. TexasYankee Reply

    Atl -as today. Leaving at the flight attendant stops half way through her safety talk and asks the passenger on the phone to stop so we can continue to taxi. The phone talking lady finally stopped ad we got to hear the safety stuff again. But then the plane was full of these self important sxsw types.

  19. Young_Tho®ough Reply

    Just wait until that type of pax shaming has not impact, if we aren’t there already!

    @Texas Yankee

  20. Taking a picture as someone’s code is basically the same (or worse) as hacking a famous person nude pictures. I get your point. I just don’t agree with you uploading a piece of code. Luckily, it’s not important in this case. It could have been a bank’s inner algorithm. Don’t do it again please.

  21. Has anyone seen a projectile laptop due to turbulence? I’ve never seen one in hundreds of flights. Seems like one of those rules that sounds “nice” in theory, but functionally just a mild, but superfluous, inconvenience. It could even be that laptops are less dangerous than tablets because of how they are held (pressed between the hands and lap vs by the fingers).

    Anyway, I wouldn’t be surprised if, e.g., 1 text from your cell phone while driving is more dangerous than a lifetime of not stowing your laptop during takeoff.

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