Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: The freedom to tune in

Is it really unsafe to use an mp3 player while flying? Photo / Thinkstock
Is it really unsafe to use an mp3 player while flying? Photo / Thinkstock

Who really believes that listening to a song on your MP3 player at takeoff could cause a crash?

The US Federal Aviation Authority seems sceptical about it. While airlines have us dutifully switching off our electronic devices during taxi-ing, takeoffs and landings, the FAA is reviewing restrictions on use of passengers' electronic devices - word is, they're going to let the gizmos stay on. And if US fliers are allowed to keep their laptops on, it can only be a matter of time before the rest of the world follows suit.

"The FAA recognises consumers are intensely interested in the use of personal electronics aboard aircraft; that is why we tasked a government-industry group to examine the safety issues and the feasibility of changing the current restrictions," an FAA statement said.

The ban on personal electronics stems from debated claims they could create electromagnetic interference with aircraft systems.

The ban on phones and internet use is likely to stay in place and that's a good thing - a passenger jet is a cellphone-free bubble in a blabbering world.

But if we're able to use e-book readers, music players and laptops for that little bit longer, then that's a small step to making longhaul more bearable. And that's worth singing about.

Uneasy listening

Last week, we published Spotify's playlist of music to sooth anxious fliers. Thanks to all those who wrote in to suggest their own inflight tunes - the consensus seems to be that classical is the way to go.

Hot tip from several frequent fliers in the know: get yourselves some noise-cancelling earphones. Whatever you're listening to will sound better when cabin noise and the rumble of the jets is blocked out. Unless it's Enya.

I went back to Spotify and asked for another playlist, this time one for anxious fliers to avoid. They came up with a playlist they've helpfully called "Nervous Flyers Beware ...". I think you could reasonably add anything by Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens or Lynyrd Skynyrd.

Crash, The Primitives

Grim Death Awaits, Vorum

The Earth Died Screaming, Tom Waits

Screaming From The Sky, Slayer

Death Flight, Too Greezey

- NZ Herald

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Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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