What is Airplane Mode and When Should You Use It?

What is Airplane Mode and When Should You Use It

When we board an airplane, one of the initial announcements that the flight attendants will make is to turn your phone off or put it on airplane mode. Why do we do this? Here’s everything you need to know about what flight mode is, what does it do, and if you can use WiFi and Bluetooth in airplane mode.

What is Airplane Mode?

airplane mode
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Airplane mode, also known as flight mode, is a setting on smartphones and portable computers that disables its wireless signal transmissions. If airplane mode is enabled on your mobile phone, that means its cellular, WiFi, and Bluetooth functions are disabled. Sometimes, GPS functions are turned off as well.

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What Does Airplane Mode Do? 

Enabling airplane mode on your device does the following:

  • It stops your phone from sending or receiving text messages or voice calls. This is because flight mode prevents your phone from communicating with cellular towers.
  • It disconnects your phone from a WiFi network. With this mode switched on, your phone will stop scanning for WiFi networks or even attempting to join them.
  • It disables Bluetooth on your smartphone.
  • It may also disable your smartphone’s GPS functions.

Can You Use WiFi on Airplane Mode? 

use wifi in airplane mode
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You can use WiFi with airplane mode enabled, but only if your airplane offers in-flight WiFi. Your phone’s WiFi disconnects automatically when you switch this mode on. However, if your flight offers WiFi, you can enable WiFi in flight mode through Settings and connect to your flight’s network. Take note, however, that in-flight WiFi is not free. Terms also differ per airline.

For more information, read our guide on how to get WiFi on a plane.

Can you Use Bluetooth on Flight Mode? 

During flights, you can still use Bluetooth if your smartphone is in airplane mode. You can use short-range Bluetooth devices, such as your earphones for listening to music or your wireless keyboard for getting some work done. But, just to be safe, before you whip out your AirPods, make sure to ask permission from a flight attendant first.

Why Use Airplane Mode?

airplane mode
(Image Source: Bigstock)

During flights, you need to enable airplane mode on your smartphone for safety reasons. Planes have navigational equipment that makes use of radio signals. The wireless transmissions to and from your phone might interfere with the pilot’s work. However, there are other instances when flight mode can be useful as well. You should switch to airplane mode when:

When Traveling to Other Countries

Roaming charges can be astronomical when you travel internationally. Putting your phone in airplane mode means your phone carrier will not charge you top dollar for receiving calls or sending text messages. When you reach your destination, you can use local WiFi to communicate with your friends or family back home.

If you don’t want to pay for WiFi when you’re away from home, check out our guide on how to get free WiFi wherever you go.

When You Want to Save Your Phone Battery

Turning on airplane mode is a great way to prolong your phone’s battery life. This is because your phone will no longer have data or radio connections, so your battery will last much longer.

When Kids are Using your Smartphone 

If your children are using your phone to play games, we recommend turning flight mode on as well. This way, they will not be able to send photos or messages to your contacts accidentally. Besides, they likely will not need WiFi to play games anyway. Check out our list of games that don’t need WiFi to play.

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