So this is what happens when you have a nine-hour commute: you get on the plane, you write a column/post about a particular effect of The Shutdown…and when you get off the plane, news is long broken that the end has been announced. So, I better publish this fast! So here goes…
It’s probably a safe bet to say that most of you are sick of hearing about the government shutdown. I know I am. There are lots of things that this political drama is affecting, but I didn’t know that every passenger’s dream was among them.
You see, there’s been a lot of chatter this year about the FAA finally taking a fresh look at the effects of personal electronic devices (PEDs) on airplanes. Finally! That chatter was building – and scheduled for a crescendo – as the results of those studies were due for release. Rumors were zooming around that crews were about to lose our most favorite way to irritate passengers – denying you entertainment during taxi, takeoff and landing.
Actually, we’re probably more excited to stop that dance than you, if that’s possible. Sure, the expected changes aren’t going to just suddenly give the OK to everything. But a wise distinction was to be made between radio-emitting PED functions and “other” activities. Still no talking on the phone at all, for example, but “yes!” for enjoying your e-books, music, games and previously downloaded videos during sterile cockpit. I don’t expect the war over more controversial radio-emissions to abate, but at least we can make this welcome progress.
So there we were, passengers and crews alike, crouched and ready to jump for joy that we could do away with that sort of in-flight policing. Airlines, too, are poised to embrace this crowd-pleasing change. (Some of your heads will spin at how fast it will take effect, I hear.) We were ready. We were waiting! It was all supposed to happen the first week of October!
Then came The Shutdown. The buzz suddenly disappeared. I didn’t think much of it, really. I was busy thinking about other big news. (Gee, what could that be?) Then someone mentioned, the shutdown isn’t distracting from this one bit of news, it has eaten it for lunch, as the FAA’s Advisory Board was among the activities to get clamped.
I’m not here to claim it’s the most dramatic or consequential government program to be put on pause! Nowhere near. I’m simply sharing an interesting tidbit, the fate of a popular story that seemed to disappear just before the big reveal. Turns out, these two dots are directly related.
I wonder if the politicians are aware of this particular connection. It may seem unimportant to us mortals but – are you thinking what I’m thinking? Their own paychecks can’t be denied during the shutdown, but do they know they could also be enjoying Homeland or House of Cards or WWE right now?! Uninterrupted, people! All they have to do is vote “yes”. Psssht. I just solved the shutdown. You’re welcome.