Vote now: Do you use Airplane mode when you’re on a plane?

I had to fly to Milan a couple of weeks ago and while I was waiting for the plane to take off, I noticed a strange thing. The cabin crew was telling all the passengers to put their electronic devices in Airplane mode, and as I was doing so a quick glance around showed me that almost no one cared.

The first question here is why do we have to put our phones in Airplane mode when on a plane? Most of you might think that this is done to avoid radio interference with the plane’s avionics. That’s somewhat correct but doesn’t tell the whole story.

The Federal Communications Commission regulates the use of cell phones on planes with the following statement: “The use of cell phones is prohibited to protect against radio interference to cell phone networks on the ground.”

That’s correct! When a phone tries to connect to a cell tower when you’re at 40,000 feet and traveling 1000+ miles per hour, your cell phone will pick up a huge number of cell towers. Multiply this by the number of passengers and all the flights constantly buzzing around the sky and you’ll get the picture – this could easily disrupt cell services on the ground.

Now back to the poll – do you use Airplane mode when you’re told so? Or do you completely switch off all your electronic devices? Some domestic flights offer onboard Wi-Fi service, so it would make sense to keep Airplane mode off. Tell us and share your experience in the comment section below.


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