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Explaining Airplane Mode And How It Works


Every frequent flyer probably recognizes when the cabin crew announces switching off your mobile phone or putting your phone in Airplane mode during a flight. What is Airplane mode? How does it work? And why do you need to put your phone on Airplane mode during a flight? This tutorial will explain what Airplane mode means and how it works.

If you’ve flown on an airplane in the last decade and have a smartphone, you’ve likely had to put that phone in airplane mode before the plane takes off.

In this article, you’ll learn what an airplane mode is, how it works, why you should use it in an airplane, and more. Read on!

What is Airplane Mode?

When you enable airplane mode, you disable your phone’s ability to connect to cellular or WiFi networks or Bluetooth. So, unfortunately, you can’t make or receive calls, send texts, or browse the internet.

COPYRIGHT_NOVA: Published on https://www.novabach.com/i/what-is-an-airplane-mode-how-does-it-work/ by Daniel Barrett on 2022-06-11T14:04:54.000Z

You can still use your phone; however, you can take photos, listen to music, play games, or compose emails/messages to send later. Anything that doesn’t require a signal or internet.

Why Does Airplane Mode Need To Be On During The Flight?

While most of us comply with this FAA regulation, have you ever wondered why you need to use airplane mode?

Nowadays, we can use our phones almost everywhere. There is even WiFi in several modern aircraft. But why do we have to put our phones in Airplane mode during the flight? This has to do with the signal that your device emits. During the flight, you get out of reach of the telephone towers with which your phone constantly seeks connection. Because your phone can’t find a connection, it sends an increasingly strong electrical signal into the world in search of these towers. The pilot can hear an annoying sound in their headphones because of this signal.

Another explanation is that it is for your safety. If something happens on the plane, you are not distracted by your mobile phone, and you make more conscious choices, especially during the take-off and landing. You are always asked to put away all devices to have full attention to what is happening around you.

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How Do You Switch It On?

To turn airplane mode on, swipe up from the bottom of the screen if you have an iPhone or iPad. You’ll see a little airplane icon in the menu that pops up, click it, and it’ll turn orange. This means airplane mode is engaged.

When you click that little airplane, all transmitting will be disabled. You’ll also notice that your wifi has been turned off and that your phone is no longer transmitting a radio signal. If you have an Android phone, the process is similar. Swipe down from the top and click the little airplane; that’s all!

Why Do We Have To Do This?

Your cell phone is a powerful little device. But unfortunately, it emits radio waves and electromagnetic interference (EMI) that can mess with an aircraft’s communication devices. And no one wants an airplane that can’t communicate with, say, air traffic control at your destination airport.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has also determined that cellular signals coming from plans could overwhelm cell towers below, disrupting service. After all, millions of people fly every day, so that would be a lot of tower clogging.

Whatever the reasons, and however you feel about them, it’s a good idea to follow your flight attendant’s instructions and switch on airplane mode when you’re in the air.

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The Silver Lining

Six years ago, the FAA decided that its restrictions on cell phones/cellular devices were a bit too harsh. So they started allowing passengers to use WiFi and Bluetooth during flights.

If your phone has WiFi capabilities, feel free to connect to the internet and browse away. Bonus: you can also use your Bluetooth headphones. You have to manually turn WiFi back on once you’re in airplane mode (in that same dock menu you saw above).

Are There Other Uses For Airplane Mode?

Think about what airplane mode does: it makes it so you can’t get (or make) calls or receive (or send) messages. It also keeps you from mindlessly browsing the interwebs. That’s a potential for peace of mind and productivity.

Get Some Work Done.

If you need to focus and get some deep work done, consider turning on airplane mode. No more distracting pop-ups, notifications, or noises from your device; what a relief it will be!

You can set a time limit for yourself (no need to have airplane mode enabled all day. What if you SO need to ask you what you want for dinner? Or your kid needs to get in touch?). Try a couple of hours and see how much you get done.

Protect Your Kids.

Speaking of children, airplane mode can be useful for them, too. If you give your child your phone or tablet, you don’t want them to call your boss or accidentally purchase your whole Amazon wishlist.

So, switch airplane mode on. They’ll still be able to play games, take photos, and so on. But, they won’t be able to get into nearly as much trouble.

Charge Up More Quickly And Save Battery Life.

When your phone is in airplane mode, it’s not constantly trying to find a wireless network or signal. So your battery will last a lot longer.

If you have a long day and forgot your battery pack, switch on airplane mode. You’ll get more done, have a bit of peace of mind, and your phone will still have some charge later when you need it to navigate to that hot new restaurant you’ve wanted to try.

Bonus: when you’re using airplane mode, your phone will charge more quickly (same reasons as mentioned above: it’s not trying to do so much, so you can focus on charging). So if you don’t have a new, super-fast-charging device, this will help you out.

Disconnect And Take A Break.

Lastly, sometimes you want to step away from your phone or tablet and free yourself from all the notifications. Good for you, do it.

Airplane mode makes it easy to disconnect from your device, but still, leave it on (to use it as your alarm clock, for example. Or snap some photos on vacay.). So, click that little airplane and leave your cares behind.

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About The Authors

Daniel Barrett

Daniel Barrett

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