Great news and innovation for frequent travellers

EU extends the use of electronic devices on planes

ipad-on-planeMany of us fly somewhere every week in our work, and we are told to turn off all electronic gadgets. Or at least those gadgets with an “on/off switch,” as so many flight crew clarify for us. Some of us comply. I fly so frequently that I often forget to do it. Interestingly, the regulators allows for flight crews to use tablet computers, and has allowed crews to use electronic flight bags since the 1990s to replace the huge paper aircraft manuals. And guess what? These planes all have WiFi.

Now finally the air traffic regulators have made up their mind to allow us travellers to use technical gadgets throughout flights. By the end of October, the US Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) announced that airlines can expand passenger use of tablets and other personal electronic devices to all phases of flight — including take-off and landing.

Then yesterday the EU’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has updated its guidance on the use of portable electronic devices on board aircrafts, including smartphones, tablets and e-readers. It confirms that these devices may be kept switched on in "Flight Mode" (non-transmitting mode) throughout the journey (including taxiing, take-off and landing) without a risk to safety. The development is a good sign, ultimately, not just for passengers, but also for airlines, which can offer flights with one less layer of frustration. Frequent fliers rejoice.

What does this all mean for my next flight?

It is up to every airline to update their operating rules now. According to the EU press release, many are expected to do so in the coming weeks.


Flight mode "on"

Flight mode "off"

On the ground (taxiing)

YES, but do pay attention to the safety briefing and stow away heavy items before take-off







YES but only in WiFi equipped aircraft, like the Norwegian fleet, and when crew allows it









More great news

There is more great news for frequent travellers this autumn. We have all been on a crowded plane, tired after a long day of work meetings or in need to concentrate to get some work done on our laptops. However this may be difficult with the noise level in the aircraft and sometimes with screaming babies in the next seat.

What’s the solution? I slip on my Bose QuietComfort 1.5 noise-cancelling headphones to put the world around me on mute. Noise cancelling headphones use microphones to listen to the incoming sound, then some fancy processing creates inverse waves which get fed back into the headphones. These inverse waves cancel out the ambient sound.

I have had the QuietComfort 1.5 for years and they have become a trusted companion traveller. However these headphones are bulky to keep in the laptop bag and the batteries do not last long, and when I wear them for long-haul flights, they start to feel uncomfortable after some hours.

This autumn there is a new option available. The new QuietComfort 20 from Bose are the company´s first in-ear noise cancelling headphones. They deliver a stunning breakthrough in noise reduction, audio performance and comfort, and offer two ways to listen – one to shut out the world, and one to keep you connected. They fit in your pocket, weigh close to nothing, and rival the performance of the much larger over-the-ear headphones.

There is no audio company more recognizable than Bose. Most people would be hard pressed to name more than a handful of other speaker companies. This is largely because Bose advertises vastly more than any other audio company. As an audiophile, I have over the years bought several of their laptop and stand alone speakers and the QuietComfort 1.5 headset. Then last week I tested the QuietComfort 20 in an airport shop, and I was surprised. They sound much better than the larger headphones, feel totally non-intrusive on the ear and the battery recharges via micro USB. The QuietComfort 20 headphone will for sure be the next gadget I will get with frequent flyer miles, once Lufthansa starts to offer them in their inflight shopping catalogue.

Bose has been making noise cancelling headphones for a long time and while the headphones offer a nice way to escape the chaos and immerse oneself in hi-fidelity audio during flights, that’s not the reason they were invented. But it did start with airplanes.

Amar BoseOn a flight home from Zurich in 1978, Dr. Amar Bose tried an early set of electronic headphones that were new on-board for passenger entertainment. According to legend he could barely hear anything with the overwhelming cabin noise. This experience sent Bose on a path that would redefine audio performance and comfort over the next few decades. He returned to Boston and set up a research program at Bose Corporation, which he founded years earlier in 1964, to investigate how ambient noise could be reduced with active noise cancellation. The Bose Corporation had been with a set of guiding principles centered on research and innovation and now took on the new challenge of noise reduction.

The Noise Reduction Technology Group (NRTG) grew out of that program, and after fifteen years, in 1989, Bose introduced their innovation, the first noise-reduction headset, which was appropriately designed for the aviation industry. These days, Bose faces competition from Sennheiser, Sony and Philips the noise-cancellation market, but its position as pioneer of the industry makes it the market leader.

Below is a video interview with Sherwin Greenblatt, the former CEO of Bose Corporation,  on the difference between creating a product and creating a company with a long lasting sweetspot position.

1 comment

  1. That sounds like a really great example of innovation. I am a frequent flier, as well. Sometimes I forget to turn off all my devices, too. I hope this flight regulations apply to all parts of the globe, soon.

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