What does Airplane Mode Do, Its Importance & How to Use it

This tutorial gives a detailed explanation of What Does Airplane Mode Do. You will also get to understand the advantages of Airplane mode:

I use airplane mode a lot on my phone. I board a plane, I put my phone on airplane mode. I need undisturbed sleep, I use airplane mode.

The main purpose of airplane mode for me is to help me avoid phone calls when I am busy or don’t want to take calls. I am sure everyone knows what airplane mode is and what it does.

Still, I am going to tell you all about what airplane mode does and do you really need it. I am also going to tell you other interesting and important things you haven’t known yet.

What is Airplane Mode & What Does it Do

What does Airplane Mode Do

When you pull down the phone menu down, you will see a tiny plane icon hiding among WiFi, Bluetooth, network, and other settings. That’s airplane mode. As soon as you tap on it and it lights up, your mobile network, WiFi, and Bluetooth turns off.

What is Airplane Mode and What it Does1

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So, what’s the meaning of airplane mode?

After you turn on airplane mode, you will not be able to receive or make calls or texts. You will not be able to surf the internet or connect to your Bluetooth device. However, you can use apps or do things that don’t require a signal or internet.

For example, you can use the camera, listen to downloaded music, draft emails or messages to send them later, or even play games that don’t need the internet.

How to Switch on Airplane Mode

Before we start the discussion about why you need to turn on airplane mode, let’s talk about how to turn it on.

For an iPhone or iPad, swipe up from the bottom of your screen to access the menu. Tap on the airplane icon and it will turn orange instantly. That means your airplane mode is on. You will see that the cellular network, WiFi, and Bluetooth will turn off automatically.

How to Switch on Airplane Mode1

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For an Android device, pull down from the top right side of the screen to access the main menu and tap on the airplane icon. Your airplane icon will be lit blue indicating that the airplane mode is engaged.

airplane icon

What Does Airplane Mode Do

As I have already mentioned above, airplane mode disables certain hardware functions of your device. And it stands true for all types of devices, starting from Kindle to Android devices, iOS smartphones, tablets, iPads, and even laptops.

Here’s what airplane mode is for:

#1) Cellular Network: When airplane mode is turned on, your device will no longer communicate with the cell towers. You will not be able to use any service that requires a cellular network like calls or messaging.

Cellular Network

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Further Reading =>> Best 4G LTE Signal Booster

#2) Wi-Fi: With airplane mode turned on, you will be disconnected from any Wi-Fi network you were connected to. Also, your device will stop looking for Wi-Fi networks or try to join them.


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#3) Bluetooth: Turning airplane mode on will also turn off wireless communication. Your Bluetooth devices like headphones, smartwatches, keyboards, etc. will be disconnected from your device.

I remember this one incident from a flight where a senior was flabbergasted that suddenly his expensive Bluetooth earphone had stopped working. He had no idea that putting the phone in airplane mode disables Bluetooth connections as well. The look of relief on his face when I told him that, was priceless.


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#4) GPS: Some devices also lose their GPS-receiving functions. The key point is some, not all. This is because your device only receives GPS signals and doesn’t transmit them. However, in some devices, turning on airplane mode will disable the GPS system as well.


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Suggested Reading =>> Discover the best GPS tracking devices

Why is Airplane Mode Important

Have you ever wondered why you have to turn on airplane mode on flights? I have, a lot of times. Almost all flights have regulations to switch off electronic devices or put them on airplane mode.

A common theory is that a cellular-enabled device keeps communicating with cell towers to maintain the connection. They need to boost their signal if towers are far away and that could interfere with the airplane’s sensors, potentially causing issues with its sensitive navigation system.

Let me try and explain why we need airplane mode in simpler terms. Cell phones and tablets use the same radio frequencies from the ground up as the communication and navigation systems of a plane. So, the chances of crosstalk or adjacent-channel interference are high.

Understand it like this – you are driving somewhere listening to analog FM radio in your car. Your favorite song is playing but you can’t hear it properly because your radio is picking up transmissions from another station on a nearby frequency.

Now imagine that the pilots of your plane are trying to tackle an emergency onboard or navigating a tricky landing. They will need clear and wide-open communication and navigation channels but will catch interference from your phone. It will be a mess, life-threatening maybe.

I hope you now understand how airplane mode works and why you must put your phone in airplane mode on planes. So, if you have ever wondered why you have to use airplane mode, that’s why.

But we have Doubts

Gone were the days when people used to accept everything blindly. Many of my readers have questioned this theory and they are right in their argument. Our cellular networks are not equipped to connect to devices at the height and speed of our planes. I am no expert but that does make sense. What do you think?

Well, I say, even if our devices could find towers to communicate with, at that speed, they will be jumping from tower to tower pretty quickly. That many devices and jumping towers at the same time will interfere with signals on the ground.

Also, it will quickly drain the battery of the device during the flight. So, with a dead battery and no good signal, it doesn’t sound worthwhile. Is it?

Here’s some Good News

A few years ago FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) agreed that the restrictions on cellular devices were a bit severe. Now, they have allowed passengers to use Bluetooth and WiFi during flights.

If your flight has WiFi, you can connect to it and keep browsing. You will just have to turn on WiFi manually after turning on airplane mode. You can even use your Bluetooth device.

Advantages of Airplane Mode

So, what’s the point of airplane mode besides on an airplane? There are many instances where airplane mode comes in extremely handy.

#1) Getting Some Work Done

Sometimes my phone proves to be very annoying, especially when I am trying to focus on my writing. I think most of you must have noticed it. The moment you get busy, your phone starts to ring like everyone is thinking of you just then.

So, when I am trying to get some work done, I put my phone on airplane mode. However, I will make sure I am not away for a long time.

#2) Preventing Accidental Calls and Shopping

Once my boss called me in confusion over a gibberish message he received from my phone. No point in guessing, it was my kid. One of my friend’s kids accidentally purchased all items in her Amazon wishlist. Scary thoughts.

From that day onwards, I always put my phone on airplane mode when it is with them. Now, they can play games and take photos but not send gibberish messages, make accidental calls, or purchase my miles-long Amazon wishlist. Handy, right?

#2) Quick Charging and Battery Savings

When I am in a hurry and my phone is on the verge of dying, I always put my phone on airplane mode and let it charge. It charges more quickly than when the cellular network is on. Also, when I am traveling with no means of charging on hand, I turn on my airplane mode. It saves a lot of batteries. With airplane mode, you can make sure your phone never dies on you.

#3) Phone Detoxing

Sometimes when I am very exhausted and need my 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, or want to enjoy my novel and coffee in solace, I use airplane mode. It gives me time away from people and phones, a kind of social detox, and allows me to spend some quality ‘me time’.

So, even if you are still wondering if airplane mode is necessary? I would say, yes it is. You can use airplane mode for a lot of things as I have mentioned above.

Enable WiFi and Bluetooth in Airplane Mode

the airplane icon

You know what airplane mode does on a plane. It turns off the mobile network, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. However, you can enable WiFi and Bluetooth in airplane mode if your flight allows it. Well, yes, some flights even offer in-flight WiFi.

Here’s how you can enable WiFi and Bluetooth in airplane mode:

  • Drag down your menu screen
  • Tap on airplane mode to turn it on
  • Then tap on the WiFi icon and Bluetooth icon to turn them on

Now, while your mobile network will still be disabled, you can use WiFi and Bluetooth.

Soon Airplanes Will Offer Cellular Signals

Yes, that’s true. The US FCC is planning on changing the no-cellular network rule for flights flying above 10,000 feet. That means they will allow cell phone calls on planes soon. It will allow texting and other services that use cellular networks but not calling.

I think that’s good news. I can barely tolerate people making loud calls on trains. The same thing on a flight, I think it will be even more obnoxious, considering a plane is a tighter space compared to a train. You will have nowhere to go.

So, how’s that going to happen, since I just told you it’s almost impossible for phones to connect to cellular towers on the ground? Well, the planes with cellular radios will be equipped with picocells. A picocell is a small cellular base station that usually covers a small area. So, your phones will connect to these picocells like they would with cell towers.

These picocells will beam the cellphone signal from your device to a communications satellite. The satellite will then beam that signal back to a ground base station. There, that signal will connect to Earth’s cellular networks.

Since phones on the planes will be very close to their transmitter, the devices will be able to communicate at their lowest power level of transmitting. Your phones will not try to boost their signal to communicate with cell towers on the ground. This will eliminate the issue of interference.

However, keep in mind that all this is for planes flying above 10,000 feet. For those flying below 10,000 feet, you will still need airplane mode. You will also have to put your phone in airplane mode during takeoff and landing.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q #1) What is the point of airplane mode?

Answer: Airplane mode allows you to use your device on a plane by deactivating cellular networks, Bluetooth, and WiFi that might interfere with the plane’s signal.

Q #2) Will the plane crash if I don’t turn on airplane mode?

Answer: There hasn’t been any incident of a plane crashing due to a phone that’s not in airplane mode. However, you should turn it on to make sure there’s no distracting interference.

Q #3) What happens when someone texts you in airplane mode?

Answer: If you send a message in airplane mode, it will not go through. You will have to resend it after you turn on your cellular network. If someone has sent you a message, you will receive it after you turn off your airplane mode.

Q #4) Can you still use Wi-Fi in airplane mode?

Answer: If the airline allows it, you can use WiFi and Bluetooth while your phone is in airplane mode.

Q #5) Do you get missed calls and texts in airplane mode?

Answer: No. You might get the ‘someone was trying to connect to your message as some networks allow it and texts once you turn on your network.

Q #6) What is the benefit of airplane mode?

Answer: Here are some of the benefits of airplane mode:

  • Extended battery life
  • Data saving
  • Quick charging
  • Reboots device services without having to reboot
  • Digital break

Q #7) What happens when you put your phone in airplane mode?

Answer: It disables the ability of your phone to connect to networks like cellular, WiFi, or Bluetooth.

8) When should I use airplane mode?

Answer: Here are a few situations you should use airplane mode:

  • While traveling to other countries
  • On flights
  • To save battery
  • While your kids are using your phone to play games
  • If you need a break from your phone

9) Is airplane mode useful?

Answer: Yes, airplane mode is very useful, especially if you want to save your battery or want quick charging.


In this article, I have tried my best to help you understand what airplane mode is on a cell phone and what it does. I hope you now have clarity about what airplane mode is on my phone and why it is important.

You can also use it for other purposes than flying. Airplane mode is a very useful feature of your phone with many advantages, use it well.