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My mother recently traveled to visit and had mentioned that wireless mice are recently banned from air travel? Also, is there a reason why?

Is that a flight policy or just a TSA standard?

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It is possible that she may not be allowed to use it during flight by the flight crew –  Karlson Mar 16 '12 at 19:13
    
No, my 60 something mother isn't very tech savvy. She only uses it only unless its really really necessary. –  chrisjlee Mar 19 '12 at 5:00

4 Answers 4

up vote 9 down vote accepted

There are no rules, either TSA, FAA, airline or otherwise, that would stop you from taking a wireless mouse (or most any other "transmitting" device) through security and onto a plane.

However once you're on the plane there are rules specific to radio transmitting devices, which a wireless mouse is.

With very few exceptions, the rules are broken into two phases of flight - take-off/landing, and cruise.

During take-off and landing, or specifically the period of flight when the plane is below 10,000 feet, no electronic devices are allowed to be used. That includes computers, wireless mouse, wired mice, kindles, MP3 players, etc. Specifically those devices need to be turned completely off. In the case of a computer, that means "off", not just "standby". In the case of a wireless mouse, that would also mean that the mouse would need to be turned off.

During the rest of the flight, electronic devices may be used, with some conditions. The largest condition is that any device with a radio transmitter must have the transmitter disabled UNLESS it is a specific approved type of transmitting device. On some aircraft - primarily those that provide inflight WiFi - computers with wifi are considered an approved transmitting device, and thus may be used. On most other aircraft, basically all transmitting devices are not allowed.

Specifically for a wireless mouse, this is a transmitting device, and thus technically is not allowed to be used during flight. It must be turned off completely when below 10,000 feet, and either turned off or have it's transmit function disabled above 10,000 feet. As you almost certainly can't (independently) turn off it's transmit function, that pretty much means it must be off the entire flight.

Realistically I'm sure everyone knows that the power output from a wireless mouse isn't going to be sufficient to interfere with the aircraft in any way, but the approach that has been taken is to simply disallow all transmitting devices, and then only allow those that have been suitably tested and approved. (Whether this approach is the correct approach is a conversation best had over a beer and not on Travel.SE!)

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There are no laws against bringing a wireless mouse on an airplane. This was probably an individual screener who was having a bad day.

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I believe it is actually an FAA restriction. You cannot have any transmitting devices operating on board of an airplane, that includes wireless mice and bluetooth headsets.

edit

This is of course an in-flight restriction. It says nothing about actually currying the mouse in your baggage without using it. For some reason it wasn't clear to everyone.

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In general this is false since in-flight wi-fi is available and kinda requires a transmitting device in a Laptop or such. The best I can find on the reasoning is this fact sheet –  Karlson Mar 16 '12 at 21:12
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@Karlson by false you mean that there's no actual reason for this directive? I tend to agree, as someone who has an idea about radio equipment, I believe that the radio signals emitted by such devices are insignificant, and the modern planes are shielded sufficiently. But the directive nevertheless stands. WiFi is allowed when WiFi is available on the plane (and it has to be approved by FAA), and it is usually a profit center for the airline. In any other case and any other equipment - is forbidden. –  littleadv Mar 16 '12 at 21:53
    
It is allowed on the aircraft but you cannot use them under 10 k. Forbidding business people to work on their laptops in the air is a political suicide –  Karlson Mar 16 '12 at 22:30
    
@Karlson - no, you're wrong. It is forbidden throughout the whole flight, read the link you put in your first comment. You don't have to use wireless mouse to work on your laptop. In fact, I personally find it uncomfortable to use mouse at all in the confined space of the airplane seat, I prefer using touchpad. –  littleadv Mar 16 '12 at 22:40
    
Mouse yes. But your laptop with a wireless card built in is a transmitting device which most people don't know how to turn off. So the generalization of transmitting devices is false –  Karlson Mar 16 '12 at 23:08

Ok. Just to put a nail in this coffin:

From TSA

So the basic premise is: Wireless devices can be carried on board and any device except the ones for medical use like insulin pumps either is or can be prohibited for use during flight.

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