Is it because the extra strain on the electrical system reduces engine performance?

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    $\begingroup$ The electrical load is fairly trivial compared to the total engine power. E.g. the CFM56 engines used on A320 or B737 will produce on order of 20 MW at take-off power (by comparison with turboshaft engines of similar size) while the generators are only rated for 90 kVA, or a bit under ½%. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Mar 7 at 22:19
  • $\begingroup$ @JanHudec: Given that passenger flights are commonly loaded to within one-half percent of the maximum allowable weight for a particular takeoff (any capacity that isn't being used is money that isn't being made), even a difference that small could still potentially be critical. $\endgroup$ – Vikki Jun 2 at 23:45

In case of emergencies.

If something unexpected happens during landing, you don't want people to trip over cables, look for their phone or whatever or start packing anything plugged into the socket. This is the same reason you are asked to stow away bags or any other loose items and so on as well.

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    $\begingroup$ IATA also says because the cabin crew response will be limited in such critical phases to address any lithium battery overheating. $\endgroup$ – ymb1 Mar 7 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ you definitely don't want to trip on power cables, especially if the airplane is on fire with the only exit in front of you. regulations say that an aircraft has to be evacuated in under 90 sec. power cords interfere with this process. $\endgroup$ – Bredyhopi Mar 9 at 16:12
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    $\begingroup$ Until recently it was considered that passengers should be free of distractions at these times, since that is when a survivable incident would be most likely, so appropriate action by the passengers would minimise loss of life. However this appears to have been overturned more recently because passengers tend to be more distracted by having to put their devices down for a couple of minutes. $\endgroup$ – Frog May 30 at 6:34

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