The Reason You Need To Put Your Phone In Airplane Mode

If you're a frequent flier, you know all too well the feeling you get when trying to get those last-minute texts and calls to your loved ones in, before the flight attendants' announcement to switch your phone to airplane mode. Thankfully, that feeling is limited to take-offs and landings only because many airlines now offer inflight Wi-Fi services, so you can continue to browse the internet without interruption. But, you have to wonder what is airplane mode, and why is it so important to turn it on before your flight.

Airplane mode is a frequently used setting found on smart devices such as phones and tablets that stops all cellular, wireless, and Bluetooth features so it doesn't interfere with the airplanes' communications systems when it's switched on. Once it's enabled, you can still use device features such as the camera or notes, but you will not be able to make calls, use Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, or stream data.

Why Do You Need Airplane Mode When You Fly?

For safety reasons, the Federal Flights Commission (FCC) restricts the use of phones and other smart devices during flights. Over the last few years, however, there has been public pressure to change FCC rulings, (via Washington Post) but aviation officials, for the most part, have erred on the side of caution and have continued to restrict their use while flying. While it's never been completely proven that using your phone when up in the clouds can cause your plane to crash, it is always better to be safe than sorry.

A phone that is not in airplane mode can interfere with and potentially disrupt communication systems on your flight. How? For wireless devices to work, it emits and receives signals from the nearest cell towers. The further away it is from a transmission tower, the stronger its signal has to be. On a flight, your phone is more than 40,000 feet away from a tower, so its strength will increase to be able to reach the receivers below. These signals are able to disrupt the pilots' navigational and landing systems on board—which is probably the last thing you want to do on a flight.

You Don't Have To Be on a Plane to Use Airplane Mode

You don't necessarily have to be on a plane to enable your phone's airplane mode either. It is good for the times when you want to conserve your phone's battery life, or if don't have an unlimited data plan and want to save on data charges. Furthermore, according to experts having your phone on airplane mode reduces radiation exposure because when you shut off its wireless features, it stops releasing radioactive waves (via Environmental Working Group).

To turn on airplane mode on your phone, all you have to do is to look for your phone's airplane icon. If you have an Android phone, go to Settings, and find the Network & Internet tab. Choose airplane mode, and toggle the switch whenever you want to switch the settings on or off. If you are an Apple user, open the control center on your Apple device and touch the Airplane icon to activate airplane settings. Alternatively, you can also open the Settings app and change to your desired Airplane Mode settings.