Better question: By the time the Transportation Department decides, will we still be making phone calls?

By Jessica Plautz
December 08, 2016
Credit: Serg Myshkovsky/Getty Images

The debate over allowing phone calls during flights is far from over.

The Department of Transportation proposed rules on Thursday that could leave the decision to permit or ban in-flight chatter to individual carriers, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But the department could also allow passengers to chat it up on their mobile phones, with the caveat that airlines would need to warn them ahead of time about the possible disruption.

In 2014, the department invited public comment on whether or not to ban mobile voice communications on flights. The responses, as anyone who can envision trying to nap while their seatmate is making a call can guess, were less than favorable.

“There is no reason that any person needs to make a phone call while on an airplane,” wrote one commenter. “We have survived until now without being able to talk while flying.”

(Related, have we all collectively forgotten those back-of-seat phones that cost approximately $195.95 a minute?)

On Thursday, the Department of Transportation said that “a substantial majority of individual commenters expressed opposition to voice calls,” because they are disturbing, “particularly in the confined space of an aircraft cabin.”

It could be many more years before any real decision is reached, which makes it seem likely that by the time the department does make a decision, technology will have advanced beyond phone calls. It's not like we're making that many of them anymore anyway.