If you have flown at all in the past several years, you’re familiar with being told to place your phones and tablets into airplane mode prior to takeoff. I know we all know that doing this will shut off your access to mobile data, but why must we use this setting – and what else can it be used for besides while flying?
What is Airplane Mode?
Airplane Mode is a setting on your mobile device that turns off the connection to cellular and Wi-Fi networks, along with Bluetooth. According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the Federal Aviation Association (FAA), those frequencies could give off a bit of interference that might affect the airplane equipment. We definitely wouldn’t want that to happen – especially if we let everyone on the flight have their phones on! Imagine how much interference there could be. We all want to get to our destinations safely, right? The agencies feel that it is possible this interference could somehow jam the networks that the flights have to use. This has not actually been proven to be 100% true, of course, but the likelihood is so high that it is better to be safe than sorry. We don’t want to take that change, you know? If you have ever put your phone next to a speaker and hear some weird buzzing sounds, it will make more sense as to why this precaution is taken. Once in the air, many airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi which is completely safe to use from the comfort of your seat – for a cost.
When you put your phone into Airplane Mode, you can still listen to your music and play games if they’re stored on the phone itself… even if you decide you don’t want to pony up the money for the in-flight Wi-Fi. (I never do… I just download books or something on my Netflix account to watch with my earbuds.)
A few years ago, the FAA changed their guidelines. They now let us use our electronics on the plane a bit more than they used to. You’re allowed to turn your Bluetooth connection back on once you are in Airplane Mode. Voila! Now you can connect your wireless headphones to the phone or tablet to listen to music or watch a movie! If you want to re-enable your Bluetooth connection, make sure the device is in Airplane Mode, then swipe up or down on your phone and tap that Bluetooth icon. Again, you can go the long way into your Settings panel and turn it on from there. Just keep that Airplane Mode itself turned on!
Other Uses for Airplane Mode
Placing your phone into Airplane Mode is not only useful when flying. There are other reasons you may want to turn this setting on! Let’s say you are at work and your phone keeps interrupting you with incoming messages. It takes two seconds to put your phone into Airplane Mode so that you will not be disturbed. Once you are prepared to take calls and answer texts again, they will be there waiting for you when you turn Airplane Mode off.
If for some reason your connection is acting wonky, it can sometimes automagically fix itself by quickly putting your phone into Airplane Mode and then turning it back off. I know – that sounds crazy. Think of it though: that’s faster to do than a complete reboot of the phone, right? Believe it or not, this actually has worked for me before, and could help you. I cannot explain WHY this works… I just know that it does. I’m not sure anyone can explain it fully, much like we cannot truly explain why restarting a computer sometimes clears up minor issues.
Lastly – in case you didn’t already know – your phone or tablet will charge up faster if you put it into Airplane Mode or turn it all the way off. Obviously if you are waiting on a call or message of some sort, you will not want to do this.
How to Put Your Device into Airplane Mode
This setting is so widely used that nearly all phones make it extremely fast and easy to accomplish. From your home screen, simply swipe up or down (depending on your device type) and tap the little airplane. Poof! You are automagically now in Airplane Mode. Additionally, you can go into your phone or tablet’s ”Settings” screen, tap your way into the ”Connections” section and turn on Airplane Mode from there.
How often have you used Airplane Mode for anything other than when flying? Did you even realize it could be useful at other times?