When we board an airplane for traveling to another location, one of the first announcements you will hear from the flight attendant is to turn off your cell phone or put it on Airplane Mode or Flight Mode. Putting your phone on flight mode is an alternative to switching off your phone. You can still use your phone’s features that don’t depend on a cellular network like, listening to already downloaded music, watching videos stored in your device’s memory, write in your word processor application, etc. But what exactly is flight mode? Why do we need to turn it on during flights? Are there any other useful applications of this mode? Let’s discuss this.
What is Airplane Mode?
Airplane mode or flight mode is a feature on portable devices like smartphones, tablets, laptop computers, etc. It disables the wireless signal transmission to and from these devices. It means cellular, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and sometimes, even GPS functions are turned off.
Functions of Airplane Mode
- It stops your phone from sending or receiving voice calls and text messages. Airplane mode prevents your phone from communicating with cellular towers on the ground.
- With this mode turned on, your device will stop scanning for Wi-Fi networks and it can’t even try to join them.
- It disables Bluetooth on your device.
- It can disable the GPS function of your smartphone.
Can Wi-Fi be Used in Flight Mode?
When you switch on flight mode, your device automatically disconnects Wi-Fi. Still, if your flight offers WiFi, you can enable WiFi in flight mode through Settings and connect to your flight’s Wi-Fi network. It is important to note that in-flight Wi-Fi is not always free. Terms and conditions to use in-flight Wi-Fi also differ from airline to airline.
Can Bluetooth be Used in Flight Mode?
Short-range Bluetooth devices, like Bluetooth earphones and keyboards, can be used when flight mode is on. But before you start using them, make sure to ask for permission from a flight attendant first, just for safety issues.
Why Use Airplane Mode?
You need to enable flight mode during a flight for safety reasons. An airplane’s navigational equipment uses radio signals. The wireless transmissions to and from your cellular device may interfere with the pilot’s work. Laws in many countries prohibit the use of signal transmitting devices on commercial aircraft.
A typical cellular-enabled device is communicating with many cell towers to maintain a connection at all times. During the flight, because the towers are far away, the device has to boost its signal strength to communicate with the towers. This kind of communication could interfere with the airplane’s sensors and cause issues with sensitive navigating equipment. Although the modern equipment is not as vulnerable and the risk is quite minimal, it is best to avert the risk altogether – especially when people’s safety and lives are at stake.
Other Uses of Flight Mode
- When traveling to another country: Roaming charges can be very high when traveling overseas. Putting your phone on flight mode won’t allow your telecom carrier to charge you for roaming. You can keep it in flight mode until you insert a local SIM card into your phone. When you arrive at your destination, use local Wi-Fi to communicate with your family and friends.
- To Save your Phone Battery: When you switch on the flight mode, your device starts draining less battery. This is because your phone has no battery-consuming radio or data connections, so your phone’s battery will last longer. Remember, it won’t allow you to make or receive calls & texts and access data. But it is a great option when you are using your phone or tablet as an electronic reader.
- Limit Distractions: Airplane mode can help you to concentrate better, especially at work. It can do this by cutting off the use of all the distracting apps and their notifications like WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook, etc. Of course, it will block all the calls and messages too. But later during lunchtime and other break times you can turn off the flight mode and follow up on the calls and messages so that nothing important is missed. Moreover, airplane mode can be used at night for sleeping peacefully without notification bells ringing. The good thing is that your alarm clock will still work as long as it does not rely on the internet.
- Charges the Phone Faster: Airplane mode turns off many of the battery draining features, hence your phone performs only the basic functions. This makes charging your phone quicker. If you need even a quicker charging boost, then turn off your phone before plugging in the charger.
Airplane mode or flight mode can be activated from the drop-down menu of the main screen of your cell phone or tablet. It blocks your cellular device from connecting to networks, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. This means you can’t make or receive calls, send & receive texts, and access data when flight mode is enabled.
However, it doesn’t make your device completely unusable. You can view images, videos, and messages saved on your device, play video games already downloaded on your device that don’t need the use of the internet, and listen to music already downloaded on your device’s memory. Airplane mode has several other uses too. So, this feature is not used only when you are on board. The feature of the Airplane mode is useful even to a person who never boards a flight.