I will contain my first comments to what IMO the code requires.
IMO it is clear the NEC does not allow one inch of cord above a suspended ceiling.
I have been convinced of this by other members here like Joe T and Don.
Also starting with the 2002 code the inspectors in my area will not allow cord connected condensate pumps above the ceiling.
Two choices, pump on the wall below the ceiling or tell the HVAC contractor to supply pumps that can be hardwired.
Another item we run into is motorized video projector mounts.
These retract the video projectors above the suspended ceilings. Previously we where putting plugs above the ceiling for these, now the inspectors require the plug to be installed on the underside of the ceiling and the cords must stay below the ceiling as well. Very ugly and the customers hate it.
Now some personal opinion, I think it is time for the manufactures to catch up with the NEC on this issue. The equipment should be provide with an option for 'hard' wiring if the equipment is designed or intended for ceiling use.
I do not believe it is wise to have cords above ceilings, I have found old cords above ceilings and when flexed the insulation drops off.
There is also the issue of the ceiling often being used for 'other environmental air' and rubber cord is not suitable for use in that space.
I think we should ask ourselves is there a hardship created by the 'no cord' rule that exceeds the problems of complying with it?
What possible reason is there to really need a cord above the ceiling?
Hard wire the equipment!