Right now, passengers have two options: Turn their phone off or put it in airplane mode. If the proposal had gone through, passengers would have been required to follow strict rules, but once in the air, would be allowed to make phones calls (assuming they got service). The proposal was first introduced by former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler back in 2013, but today, new chairman Ajit Pai made the reversal.
"Taking it off the table permanently will be a victory for Americans across the country who, like me, value a moment of quiet at 30,000 feet," retorted Pai in a statement.
It's safe to use phones in the air, but you still can't
There has been a long-standing concern that using cellphones might interfere with an airplane's radios, but that sentiment has been since disproven. The Federal Aviation Administration had ruled phones are safe to switch on phones during a flight. Tom Wheeler sought to undo these laws given the new information, but Ajit Pai disagrees with him.
Currently, even if you turn on your phone mid-flight, you probably won't get any service. But with new technology like satellites, drones and lasers enabling the use of data at greater altitudes, it was only a matter of time before casual consumers were able to use their phones during a flight.
In the end, it's not a huge deal, and probably best who don't want their seat neighbor squawking all flight. Besides, we can't miss something we never had.