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What Does Airplane Mode Do To Your Phone?
When flying on a domestic or international flight, we have many standard practices that begin from the departure airport before we are on our way to our destination. We must arrive an hour prior to check-in for domestic flights and 2 hours prior for international flights.
We go through 21st century standard security checks. Have you and you alone packed your bags?
Does your luggage (both carry-on and check-in) meet or exceed maximum weight requirements?.
Then you have finally found your seat. You have stored your carry-on bag in the overhead compartment and the other small items under the seat in front of you and now have buckled up.
One of the final instructions before take off is that you must turn off your cell phone or switch to the Airplane Mode.
What is so important that my cell phone automatically comes with this feature? Why must it be activated on all airline flights?
It is even named after this specific mode of transportation.
What is Airplane Mode?
This feature on our cell phones is integral and mandatory based on airline regulations. Passengers have the option to either shut off the cell phone or choose the Airplane Mode for the cell phones (including smartphones and other mobile devices) before takeoff.
You can find this feature in your settings section. Nowadays, it is a stand alone setting for the user to tap or swipe to turn on this mode.
Its function is to disconnect all voice, data, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections on your phone during your flight.
Why Do We Have Airplane Mode on our Devices??
There are a couple of reasons for the current regulations and they originate from two different federal agencies. The Federal Communications Commision (FCC) oversees and regulates phone use on all airplanes.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulates the use of all electronic devices on airplanes.
The FAA asserts that active cell phones during flight could cause electromagnetic interference with the operation of the airplane’s electronic equipment. The FCC claims that active phones even at 40,000 feet in the air could pick up service from cell tower to cell tower throughout the flight.
Utilizing cell towers while flying does not conform with the specific parameters that go into the cell tower’s design. The cell tower’s system is built to accommodate a range of frequency in handing off a call for users who are located on the average within a 50 mile radius.
They are typically traveling on foot or in a vehicle, therefore, the expected altitude is on the ground.
When a cell phone is accessing these cell towers at higher speeds and heights than the system is intended to service the system is at risk of being disrupted for all users that rely on the cell tower. This can impact thousands if not millions of users who are on the ground.
While there are claims that say there is no such risk, the FCC is taking the preventative approach in this matter.
Similarly, there has been no evidence that demonstrates active cell phones on a plane will cause airplane equipment malfunction. Nevertheless, the argument for safety overrides any inconvenience you may experience by being disconnected for the duration of the flight.
I think we’d rather not experiment to find out, swipe Airplane Mode and head where we need to go.
What Happens When Your Device is in Airplane Mode??
There was a time when people had laptops, video players, tablets, cameras, and other electronic devices. Nowadays all of these devices can be found in one device we call the smartphone.
In Airplane Mode, cellular services like receiving and sending calls and text messages are restricted entirely.
However, the camera, MP3 player, games and any other features that do not require a Wi-Fi connection are still accessible during the flight. So you can still write messages and texts when the phone is in Airplane Mode and wait until you land to send those messages.
Many features do not require wireless service and still comply with both FAA and FCC regulations
Since 2013, the FAA modified its guidelines to allow in-flight Wi-Fi and Bluetooth access for passengers. In addition, we have airlines that offer free access to Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp, surfing the web and texting.
So consider your flight time the opportunity to do other things until you land and then catch up on our phone calls on the ground.
What Would Happen if Your Phone is not in Airplane Mode?
Is there any basis for limiting our smartphone use during flights? This was a concern, once upon a time, when the second generation GSM cell phones came out in 1991.
They had a reputation for affecting electronic devices.
Electronic devices that emit an electromagnetic range between 800-900 MHz have been established to adversely affect airplane systems. While the current regulations may not be necessary for today’s technology, older planes can still be at risk.
The complexity of aircraft equipment contains critical systems that are designed to transport many people world-wide. Phone technology continues to be updated.
Therefore, tracking and effectively testing them all to determine how they interact with airplane systems is ineffective.
Instead, airplane manufacturers stay on top of keeping critical plane systems unsusceptible to electronic interferences. It is easier to implement a universal rule for everyone to follow instead of running the risk of tracking a checklist of “safe” phones.
The regulations assure we are all safe.
Will There Be a Time We Won’t Need Airplane Mode?
When Airplane Mode is not required would mean we could witness scenarios of people who will talk throughout the flight, with their neighbors not too happy with all the chatter if they want to nap.
Until now cellular calls are not permitted on domestic airlines.
More international airlines do offer a voice call service using a system like VoIP which would access the plane’s onboard internet system.
Some benefits in Using the Airplane Mode Setting?
The Airplane Mode shuts down your device’s ability to transmit and receive. That means a lot less power usage which saves on your battery usage, too.
Also, the battery charges more quickly in airport mode.
Going back to the FCC’s concern about cell phones in-flight accessing ground cell towers. It seems there is another downside to this for the passenger.
About a year ago a man did not turn on his Airplane Mode during his international flight between Ireland and the United States. His phone connected with the ground cell towers during the flight and his roaming bill added up to nearly $300.
For the business traveler, Airplane Mode diverts your calls to voicemail. You won’t be interrupted by any calls while working in-flight.
Later on, you can check your voicemail.
Airplane Mode shuts off all social media notifications. Who doesn’t want some time to disconnect and stay offline for a bit.
Go ahead and play your favorite game or watch your favorite movie uninterrupted. That’s becoming the 21st Century luxury.