Back when we were writing about last year’s infamous Northwest Flight 183 incident, in which two pilots were so distracted, they neglected to land at Minneapolis St. Paul International Airport, the flight’s destination, several pilots wrote to say we were making too big a deal out of the situation. “It happens all the time,” several writers said of the practice of browsing the Web and playing with a laptop while flying. The two pilots involved were just unlucky enough to miss their destination and get caught.
Today, the Federal Aviation Administration basically confirmed that it’s a practice that’s becoming more common and ordered a stop to it, releasing a safety memo to the airlines that told them to tell the pilots to close their laptops and shut off their cellphones and PDAs (at some point, by the way, will someone explain to me why we poor slobs in the back who aren’t flying airplanes have to shut these things off?).