Why you Must Turn on Airplane Mode During a Flight

Why you Must Turn on Airplane Mode During a Flight

By Alex Balaniuc

People who travel by plane know that there’s a certain thing they need to do before take off: switching on Airplane mode. But what does it do, exactly? If you ever asked yourself this question, now it’s time to find out. In today’s article, in fact, we’re going to uncover the reason why you should switch on Airplane mode during a flight!

What happens when putting your mobile device in Airplane mode

Airplane mode, also known as flight mode or offline mode, is a setting available on any smartphone or mobile device. What this feature does is turning off the device’s radio-frequency (RF) signal transmission technologies, such as Wi-Fi, mobile data and Bluetooth.

This setting makes it impossible to make phone calls, send or receive messages, and use the internet. But activating Airplane mode won’t prevent you from using your device in any other way: if you want to listen to music, read your Kindle books or use any other app that doesn’t require an internet connection you can do so no problem. Some airlines even offer passengers their own Wi-Fi.

Why activating Airplane mode is important during a flight

Now, back to that RF signal transmission we mentioned earlier. Switching Airplane mode on will stop your device from emitting said signals. Normally, your smartphone is always seeking connection with the telephone towers on the ground. But when the plane takes off, the distance between the towers and the phone becomes too great, and establishing a connection is almost impossible.

Therefore your device will start sending out a significantly stronger signal in order to attach itself to a network tower. And when this happens, it can get pretty annoying and distracting for the aircraft pilot, because their communication headset picks up on this signalling in the form of audible “clicks”. This can disrupt the flight crew’s ability to communicate with the cabin crew, ATC, ground personnel, etc.

About Bluetooth mode

And that’s the purpose of Airplane mode, a setting that stops the transmission of RF signals while in flight. Now, we said that it’s impossible to make phone calls and text while on Airplane mode, but some smartphones allow calls to emergency services.

Also, regarding Bluetooth, it is not entirely true that it’s not allowed on the plane, at least for some countries. For instance, in 2013 the United States Federal Aviation Administration updated its guidelines to allow for the expanded use of personal electronics, which means that you can always use Bluetooth (short-range signal), as well as the airline company’s own Wi-Fi.

Fun fact: while in Airplane mode your smartphone’s power consumption will decrease, since the transmitters are shut down, and that in turn increases battery life. So, you can activate the mode everytime you need to save some energy on your phone!


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