If you’ve ever been on an airplane, you’ve likely been reminded by flight attendants to turn off or switch to airplane mode on your mobile phone and handheld electronic devices during takeoff and landing. So, what’s the significance of this? Why does a mobile phone affect the airplane?
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When is it necessary to turn off your phone during a flight?
There are two crucial moments during a flight when airlines typically require all passengers to turn off any electronic devices that emit signals, such as phones and electronic devices with transmitters or receivers. These moments are during takeoff and landing. During these phases, the flight crew maintains continuous communication with ground control stations, monitoring altitude, airspeed, and other critical parameters necessary for the safe operation of the aircraft.
According to the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC), mobile phones are devices that emit radio frequency signals that can interfere with the sensitive electronic systems of an aircraft. The signals from mobile phones can disrupt the accuracy of flight parameters and potentially interfere with crew communications. As a result, mobile phones must be disconnected during takeoff and landing to ensure they do not affect the aircraft’s operation.
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What is Airplane Mode on a Phone?
As mentioned above, the operation of electronic devices can emit radio frequency signals that interfere with the aircraft’s navigation system. When in use, these devices’ mobile data constantly attempt to connect to ground-based cell towers. As the aircraft climbs higher, the signal needs to be boosted, and this connection process can potentially interfere with the aircraft’s navigation system. That’s why most electronic devices today have an airplane mode, including mobile phones, tablets, and laptops.
The essence of airplane mode is to disconnect your device’s mobile data. Particularly, if you enable airplane mode on Apple devices, it also turns off both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. With this mode activated, you can still use games, apps, take photos, watch videos, and listen to music stored in the device’s memory.
How to enable airplane mode on an Android phone:
Swipe down from the top of the screen and tap the airplane icon. Alternatively, go to Settings > select Connections > under the “Flight mode” section, slide the toggle to enable.
How to enable airplane mode on an iPhone:
Swipe up from the bottom of the screen and tap the airplane icon. Alternatively, go to Settings > select “Airplane Mode” and slide the toggle to enable.
Notes on Using Phones on an Airplane
Turning off your phone or switching to airplane mode during takeoff and landing is mandatory. However, once the airplane reaches the necessary altitude and enters a stable operational state, you can use your phone and other electronic devices while keeping them in airplane mode. This regulation was introduced by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in October 2013.
When using your phone at a stable altitude, you should also take note of the following issues:
- Adhere strictly to the airline’s regulations and instructions from the flight attendants regarding the use of phones and electronic devices while flying.
- Maintain order in public spaces when using electronic devices. Avoid playing audio at high volumes from your phone on the plane to prevent disturbing other passengers. If you want to listen to music, it’s advisable to use good-quality headphones.
- In the case of flying during adverse weather conditions, it’s best to refrain from using phones and electronic devices to prevent them from being damaged due to turbulence or potential impacts.
Some In-flight Entertainment Activities When Not Using Your Phone
While your phone is a treasure trove of entertainment, it can become quite dull without an internet connection. In such cases, you can switch to alternative forms of entertainment to pass the time:
Reading Books and Magazines
Carrying a good book that you haven’t had time to read is a solid idea for a flight. This time is ideal for leisurely flipping through the pages, and each airplane seat is usually equipped with reading lights for your convenience. You can also opt for newspapers or the latest magazines to stay updated. Sometimes changing from electronic news to physical print can bring a refreshing and intriguing feeling.
Sleeping or Simply Relaxing with Closed Eyes
Preparing for the trip, organizing luggage, going through check-in procedures, and waiting for the boarding time can be tiresome. Taking a short nap will help you regain energy to participate in activities upon landing.
Engaging in Conversations with Fellow Travelers
Having a conversation with your fellow travelers is another way to make time fly faster on a flight. Sometimes, chatting and sharing experiences during a flight can lead to a deeper understanding of each other, fostering connections and emotions. These are things that a mobile phone certainly cannot replace.
All the regulations set forth by airlines are intended to maximize flight safety. Turning off your phone or switching to airplane mode when on board might seem simple, but it plays a part in ensuring safety for yourself and those around you.