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Is It Safe to Use My Cellphone on an Airplane?

Is It Safe to Use My Cellphone on an Airplane?

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With the widespread use of cellphones, also known as mobile phones or smartphones, it's natural for passengers to wonder if it's safe to use these devices during a flight.

As your trusted experts in passenger rights and regulations, in this article, we answer the question "Can you use your phone on a plane?" If you've ever wondered about the rules, reasons behind restrictions or potential dangers of inflight mobile phone usage, this article is for you.

Can You Use Your Cellphone on an Airplane?

The short answer to "Can you use your cell phone on a plane?" is yes. It's a common understanding amongst passengers that cellphone use is prohibited during certain stages of a flight, such as takeoff and landing. However, the rules regarding cellphone use during cruising altitude vary across airlines and are, therefore, lesser-known. 

Most airlines will allow you to use your mobile phone in airplane mode once the aircraft reaches a safe altitude. Airplane mode disables the cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth functionalities of your device, ensuring it does not interfere with the aircraft's communication and navigation systems.

Why Isn’t Cellphone Use Allowed on an Airplane?

While it's uncommon for the use of mobile phones to be entirely disallowed on an airplane, the use of these devices can often be restricted. The primary reason cellphone use is restricted during some phases of a flight is, ultimately, to ensure passenger safety by preventing potential interference with aircraft systems. The aviation regulatory bodies in each country or region typically supply specific guidelines and regulations for the operating environment onboard aircraft, which stipulate the exact rules for mobile phone usage.

Although modern planes are equipped with advanced technology that can resist external interference, the potential risk of electromagnetic interference (EMI) still exists.

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What Are the Dangers of Using a Cellphone in Flight?

The potential dangers associated with using cell phones on a plane are primarily related to the risk of EMI and potential distractions. As discussed, modern aircraft are designed to withstand external interference. However, there's still a possibility that cell phones, with their various frequencies and unintentional signal transmission, could interfere with critical aircraft systems.

Regarding distractions, cellphone use, particularly when making voice calls or engaging in activities like texting or browsing the internet, can divert passengers' attention from important safety announcements or instructions provided by the cabin crew. In an emergency situation or during unexpected turbulence, passengers need to be fully attentive and ready to follow safety procedures promptly.

It's worth noting that the risks associated with cellphone use on planes are primarily precautionary measures rather than confirmed instances of incidents caused by cell phone interference. Nonetheless, adhering to the regulations and guidelines set by aviation authorities helps maintain a secure travel environment for everyone on board.

Using Cellphone on an Airplane

Do I Have Cell Service While Flying?

Generally, traditional cellular service, which enables voice calls and text messaging, is not available while flying. When an aircraft reaches cruising altitude, it moves out of the range of terrestrial cell towers, making it challenging for cell signals to reach the plane. Additionally, the cabin's structure may further impede cell signal reception. Therefore, you rarely have access to cell service for voice calls or text messages during a flight.

Do I Have Internet Access While Flying?

While traditional cell service may not be available during a flight, many airlines offer in-flight internet access through a wifi service. This allows you to connect your devices to the onboard Wi-Fi network and access the internet while flying. In-flight Wi-Fi services use satellite or ground-based systems to establish a connection between the aircraft and the Internet.

You can use this internet access to browse websites, check your emails, use messaging apps, and access various online services. However, it's important to note that internet access may come at an additional cost, and the availability and pricing of in-flight Wi-Fi typically varies between airlines.

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Is there Wi-Fi on the plane?

The availability of wifi on a plane depends on the airline and the specific aircraft. Many commercial airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi services on select flights, allowing you to stay connected during your journey. If you've ever wondered "How do planes have wifi?", it's made possible through the use of specialised technology and systems that establish a connection between the aircraft and the internet.

To determine if your flight offers Wi-Fi, it's recommended to check with the airline prior to your travel. The airline's website or customer service representatives can provide information about wifi availability and pricing, and instructions on how to connect to the onboard Wi-Fi network.

It's important to keep in mind that the quality and speed of in-flight Wi-Fi can vary depending on the aircraft's location, the number of users connected to the network, and other factors. Some airlines may also offer different packages or plans for in-flight Wi-Fi, allowing passengers to choose the option that best suits their needs.


Below you can find some commonly asked questions and their answers surrounding mobile phone use on a plane:

 Can I use my cellphone in flight mode?

Yes, you can use your cellphone in flight mode during a flight. Flight mode is the same as airplane mode, which we discussed previously. This mode allows you to use your smartphone for activities that do not require network connectivity, such as playing games, accessing offline content, or taking photos.

What happens if I use my cellphone on an airplane?

Typically, nothing much will happen if you use your cell phone on a plane. However, it's important to note that collective mobile phone use on an aeroplane can potentially interfere with aircraft systems and communication. The signals emitted by cell phones, particularly during voice calls or data transmissions, could interfere with the sensitive electronic equipment used in aircraft navigation and communication systems. It's important to follow airline regulations and switch your device to airplane mode during critical flight phases, such as takeoff and landing.

Can you text on a plane?

In general, traditional texting services that rely on cellular networks aren't available during a flight. Once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, it moves out of the range of terrestrial cell towers, where cell signals struggle to reach the plane. However, as mentioned, some airlines offer in-flight wifi services that enable you to use messaging apps and internet-based messaging services.

What happens when you don't put your phone on airplane mode while flying?

When you don't put your phone on airplane mode during a flight, while unlikely, it can potentially interfere with the aircraft's systems. This interference may disrupt critical communication and navigation systems, leading to potential safety risks and operational issues. To prevent any potential interference, even if for precautionary purposes, it's important to follow airline regulations and switch your cell phone to airplane mode or turn it off completely during the specified flight phases.

Will the plane crash if I use my phone?

If you've ever wondered if you can you use your phone on a plane, it's likely that you've also contemplated what will happen if you do. The good news is, the possibility of a plane crashing solely because of your use of a cell phone is highly unlikely. However, the restriction on the use of cell phones during critical flight phases is in place to mitigate any potential risks of interference and to ensure the safety and reliability of flight operations. 

Following airline regulations with regard to cell phone use is always recommended.

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