Feds Might Allow Cell Phone Use on Flights: Convenience, or Annoyance Apocalypse?

It's highly controversial.

Federal regulators released a new set of proposed rules yesterday that might either make frequent travelers very happy, or downright terrified. (You probably know immediately who you are.)

The Department of Transportation is leaning toward making it OK for flyers to make phone calls during their flights, as long as all passengers have fair warning before they make their ticket purchases. In short, the department would let individual airlines determine if they want to allow voice calls using onboard Wi-Fi systems, and then would have to "disclose in advance to consumers if the carrier operating their flight allows passengers to make voice calls using mobile wireless devices."

According to U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx's statement in the DOT briefing, “Consumers deserve to have clear and accurate information about whether an airline permits voice calls before they purchase a ticket and board the aircraft. Today’s proposal will ensure that air travelers are not unwillingly exposed to voice calls, as many of them are troubled over the idea of passengers talking on cell phones in flight.”

Many are troubled indeed — and many are thrilled — about the highly controversial prospect.

So where do you fall on one of the great first-world questions of our day: Would permitting cell phone calls in flight be a huge convenience and relief, not to mention a pleasant pastime... or a nightmare descent into the unavoidable noise of incessant chitchat?

Either way, don't hold your breath for a change on your upcoming holiday flight: The decision could be years out from now.

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