I am a pretty frequent flyer. I have friends around the country that I love and cherish, and we try to get together as often as possible. So I hear the "Takeoff Speech" that the flight attendants read out frequently. I feel like I am one of 3 people who pay attention to it, but there is one part that has always puzzled me.


The request to throw your device in airplane mode. Is it really necessary these days? Has there ever actually been a plane that has been woefully ruined by a passenger not enabling airplane mode? So let's do a little digging.


Photo by Sten Ritterfeld on Unsplash
Photo by Sten Ritterfeld on Unsplash


What is the purpose of Airplane Mode?

According to the official FFA guidelines, phones can disrupt "critical aircraft instruments".

 The FCC and FAA ban cell phones for airborne use because its signals could interfere with critical aircraft instruments. Devices must be used in airplane mode or with the cellular connection disabled. You may use the WiFi connection on your device if the plane has an installed WiFi system and the airline allows its use.

The "critical aircraft instruments" in question are mainly aircraft communication instruments and instruments essential to landing. Using airplane mode stops this risk of interference.



As discussed in the video above, your phone constantly sends and receives radio waves, pinging radio towers so you can use your phone every day. You put your phone in Airplane Mode to turn the signal off to keep your phone from trying to ping all the cell towers you're flying over. Plus, it will save your phone battery.


Photo by Dylan Carr on Unsplash
Photo by Dylan Carr on Unsplash


Do you really need to use airplane mode today?

These rules were made many years ago when airplane technology wasn't as advanced as it is today, leading many to question if airplane mode even needs to be turned on today. While cell phone signals could technically cause a crash, there is no evidence of any plane crashes being caused by them. The European Commission has even introduced legislation to allow 5G phones to stay out of Airplane Mode on flights.


Businessman at airport looking airplane taking off


In-flight wifi is still accessible in airplane mode and doesn't pose a risk of affecting flight instruments. So even if it was a scam, there is no real reason not to have your phone in Airplane Mode. so next time you're flying out of Michigan, do yourself a favor and just throw your phone in Airplane Mode.


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