Airplane Mode

Why Trust Techopedia

What is Airplane Mode?

Airplane mode, commonly referred to as flight mode, is a setting available on smartphones and other mobile devices. When activated, it disables the device’s ability to transmit signals, turning off all wireless communication abilities, including cellular data (i.e., calling and texting), Internet access, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and sometimes GPS.


Airplane mode is enabled during flights as a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of wireless signals interfering with the aircraft’s communication and navigation systems, particularly during take-off and landing. It’s also used to conserve battery life or reduce roaming charges while traveling.

Airplane mode may also be referred to as stand-alone or offline mode.

Techopedia Explains the Airplane Mode Meaning

What is Airplane Mode? Definition, Types & Examples

The meaning of airplane mode is a setting on devices to disable all network connections. It’s used on airplanes due to concerns about wireless signals interfering with aircraft systems and ground-based networks.

Regulatory agencies and airlines require activating airplane mode during flights as a safety precaution. Mobile device use is typically allowed when the seat belt sign is off until preparation for landing. However, devices must be switched to airplane mode for the entire flight.

The use of airplane mode may also be requested in some healthcare facilities. Visitors may be asked to activate airplane mode to avoid interfering with critical health monitoring equipment.

How Airplane Mode Works

Enabling airplane mode varies depending on the device and its operating system (OS). Here are the steps for most smartphones.

How Do You Switch Airplane Mode On Using Quick Settings?

  • Swipe down from the top of the screen to open the quick settings panel
  • Look for the Airplane mode or Flight Mode icon
  • Tap on the icon to switch airplane mode on or off
  • Some devices may require you to tap the icon twice to turn it on or off

How Do You Switch Airplane Mode On Using the Settings Menu?

  • Open the Settings app on your device
  • Look for the Network & Internet or Connections section
  • Locate the option for Airplane mode or Flight Mode in the tab
  • Tap on the option to switch airplane mode on or off.

What is Airplane Mode Used For?

Air travelers often wonder, “Why do we need to turn on airplane mode before takeoff?” The simple answer is to comply with airline regulations and mitigate the risk of electronic devices interfering with aircraft systems.

Most airlines post policies on their websites, letting you check requirements before flying. For instance, United Airlines’ website states, “Approved electronic devices must be in airplane mode during flight.”

Why Does Airplane Mode Need to Be On During the Flight?

It’s generally accepted that the likelihood of mobile devices causing interference with aircraft systems is minimal. Activating flight mode and leaving it on during the flight is a precautionary safety measure recommended by airlines and regulatory agencies.

What Happens When You Don’t Put Your Phone on Airplane Mode While Flying?

If you don’t put your phone on airplane mode while flying, the device continues to emit radio-frequency signals in an attempt to connect to wireless networks.

Typically, airline staff do not directly monitor whether passengers enable airplane mode. Adherence to regulations primarily relies on passengers’ cooperation.

Does Bluetooth and Wi-Fi Work in Airplane Mode?

Bluetooth and Wi-Fi will work in airplane mode if manually re-enabled in the device’s settings panel. Airplane mode may also disable GPS, which will turn off the location features of your device. If airplane mode does turn off the location on your phone, re-enable it through the device’s settings menu.

Other Uses for Airplane Mode

Beyond its use as a safety precaution during flights and in healthcare facilities, airplane mode also swiftly disconnects your phone from the Internet and wireless networks.

In online forums like Quora, a common query from users is, ‘Does airplane mode save battery?’ The brief response is affirmative. Smartphones use less power with these features turned off. However, the extent of battery preservation varies by device.

Airplane Mode Pros and Cons


  • Mitigates risk of interference with aircraft systems
  • Reduces roaming fees while traveling abroad
  • Saves battery by turning off wireless


  • Disables cell connection during emergencies
  • Impedes use of location-based services
  • Limits use of calls, texts, and data access

The Bottom Line

The airplane mode definition refers to a mobile device setting that turns off all network connections. Primarily used during air travel for safety, it also quickly disconnects from the Internet and saves battery. However, it limits calls, texts, and mobile data access, which may pose challenges in emergencies.


What is airplane mode in simple terms?

What happens when your phone is in airplane mode?

When should I use airplane mode?

What happens when someone texts you in airplane mode?

Does your phone charge faster in airplane mode?

Why is airplane mode important?

Can you receive calls in airplane mode?


Related Questions

Related Terms

Vangie Beal
Technology Expert
Vangie Beal
Technology Expert

Vangie Beal is a digital literacy instructor based in Nova Scotia, Canada, who has recently joined Techopedia. She’s an award-winning business and technology writer with 20 years of experience in the technology and web publishing industry.  Since the late ’90s, her byline has appeared in dozens of publications, including CIO, Webopedia, Computerworld, InternetNews, Small Business Computing, and many other tech and business publications.  She is an avid gamer with deep roots in the female gaming community and a former Internet TV gaming host and games journalist.