If this Atlantic article by Polly Mosendz is representative, the case against allowing passengers to use electronic devices during takeoff and landing is incredibly weak. I was particular bugged by this argument:
George Hobica, an air-travel expert, explained that the flight attendants make their strongest point when it comes to safety. “If you asked 100 fliers about the demo, where their life vest is, they wouldn’t know. When the plane landed in the Hudson, people left without their life vest—of all planes to leave without your life vest! It is bad enough when people are reading their newspapers, and it is rude for one thing, but it is also dangerous,” he said. Cell phones just make their jobs even harder.
Unless we’re prepared to ban books, newspapers, small talk, magazines, and getting lost in our imaginations, banning cell phones will not cause passengers to pay attention during the demo or remember where the life vests are.
What would solve the problem – or at least, reduce it – is better communication and design. Instead of depending on a demo that they know many or most passengers aren’t absorbing, the airlines should find another way to let us know where the lifevests are – for instance, by pasting a picture showing the vest location on the back of every seat, so that passengers will unavoidably look at it hundreds of times every flight.