United Airlines is making two small but notable changes to its in-flight procedures, tightening one requirement while loosening another.
Effective February 01, 2020:
- Personal electronic devices may remain plugged in for taxi, take-off and landing
- devices must still be unplugged in the exit rows
- Passengers will be instructed to keep window shades open during taxi, take-off and landing
Leave Your Electronic Devices Plugged In On United
The instruction to unplug your electronic device(s) prior to pushback and again before landing will no longer be made. Instead, only exit row passengers will be asked to continue to do this.
United now has onboard power plugs installed throughout its mainline fleet and in my experience, flight attendants carefully police the aisles prior to departure to ensure devices are unplugged (unlike airplane mode, where no one seems to care).
While not apparent why United made this change, United clearly doesn’t think leaving cords plugged in will present a safety hazard in non-exit rows in case of an unexpected emergency that requires evacuation.
I’d still be cautious, however, about leaving your devices plugged in. I’ve witnessed “surges” from time to time that don’t have any safety impact on the aircraft, but can render the whole row of plugs inoperable for your flight (or at least require a reset). In worst case scenarios, that could damage your electronic device. However, I don’t see any risk in leaving your USB cable plugged into your monitor like the picture above.
Keep Your Window Shades Open For Taxi, Takeoff, And Landing
Adapting what most non-US airlines around the world already require, United will ask passengers to open and keep open window shades for taxi, takeoff, and landing.
But this will not be required. While customers will be strongly encouraged to keep the window shades open, it is not actually required by law or by United and will ultimately remain optional.
Already I’ve heard reports of flights attendants forcing people to open window shades, much like we already see on European and Asian airlines. Just note that the actual directive makes clear that this is a request, not requirement, though the new announcement will sound like a requirement.
Although the changes go into effect officially on February 01, you’ll likely hear the new announcements before then (if not already). The new directive was transmitted via internal memo on January 16th and many flight attendants have already adapted the new pre-boarding and pre-arrival language.
I’m rather agnostic toward these changes, since I always keep my window open for takeoff and landing and don’t plan to leave my devices plugged in. But let there be light…and power.
How do you feel about these two changes?