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Newspapers and magazines will be killed by mobile when inflight rules are relaxed

Have you been reading the various news reports about the US regulator considering the possibility of actually allowing folk to use their Tablets and Smartphones during take off and landing?

I really do have to calm myself every time I’m on the plane and I have to “stow” my iPad or smartphone because of stupid outdated policies from yesteryear.

My fix — I’m sure the fix employed by most readers of this blog — is to buy some dead trees. I always buy a magazine and sometimes a newspaper, to make sure I’ve got something to read when the plane is sitting on the runway doing nothing.

It is completely MIND-FRACKING-NUMBING when you’re stuck on a plane “with it’s engines running” on the runway and unable to do anything except… stare into space. Or read the vaguely interesting in-flight magazine.

If you’ve forgotten to buy some reading material, you’re screwed. The in-flight magazine will only get you so far. If you’ve had to sit for 45 minutes (or worse) in a stationery jet with nothing to read by the in-flight magazine, it doesn’t take long for Completer’s Panic to set in. (What’s worse than having nothing to read whilst your plane is standing on the runway doing nothing? Finishing the in-flight magazine and having to leaf back through it frantically trying to find anything to stimulate your brain.)

We are now unaccustomed to handling unpredictable periods of enforced downtime without the use of smartphones or tablets.

It’s painful. Seriously painful. Especially when you’ve actually got work or something meaningful to get on with and you’re having to re-read some article about the Olympics for the Nth time.

I suspect that when a new ruling arrives from the Americans allowing the use of tablets and/or smartphones, they’ll need to deal with the issue of talking. I don’t have a problem with that being prohibited. I also don’t have a problem with people being asked to avoid using headphones/earphones during take-off and landing. Safety first.

But I should definitely be able to read my Kindle or do some email or browse my feeds.

The moment I know I can do this, I won’t ever bother buying a magazine or newspaper.

I sometimes even buy a book because I worry about being delayed. Especially when I’m flying across America, coast to coast or from say NYC to Austin. The weather can really cause some shocking delays and you really do need a book or something substantial to keep your attention focused away from screaming babies and mutinous passenger rants.

My policy right now is to always visit WH Smiths at Heathrow and pay my air-travel-technology-tax. That is, I spend about £15-20 on magazines. I try and pick up Wired USA. I always get a copy of The Week (despite having it on the iPad — useless on the iPad, right now, because of the stupid travel technology policies). I might pick up Time Magazine or Newsweek if it’s a long flight. And I usually browse the “Airport Exclusives” section just to see if anything jumps out at me.

If, by the way, I do spot a book that’s of interest, I mull the reality of purchasing in dumb paper format vs the convenience of being able to read something when the plane is delayed. Usually I just rely on magazines or newspapers. That has served me well. If I’ve just walked away from what looked like a good book, I will often flick up Amazon on the smartphone and buy the book as I step out of WH Smiths.

I look forward to the day when I don’t need to mess about with physical bits of paper. I wonder just what a change of the inflight rules on tablets and smartphones will do to the concession stands at airports.

What’s your strategy at the moment?


  1. Audio books or podcasts. The flight attendants don’t seam to mind so long as you don’t have your headphones in at the moment they walk past checking.


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