What exactly is the use of Flight Mode?

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Flight mode

Many modern phones come with a Flight Mode option. In Flight Mode, the wireless radio of your device (the part that connects to a mobile network) is turned off while the device itself remains on. As such, access to your operator’s network (or any operator’s network at all) is cut off. This feature lets you use the device for other tasks e.g. typing a document, listening to music, or even watching a video without radio transmission.

Scenarios in which this is important include air flights (which is why it is named Flight Mode), some hospital settings or other areas where electronic wireless transmission can cause problems.

I have taken a few air flights in my life, and even when I put my phones on Flight Mode, the hostesses insist that I turn the device off completely. Of course, I don’t want to cause a scene, so I always obey.

Of course, that leaves me wondering, What is the use of Flight Mode if it is not acceptable when flying? Of course, it could just be that I am flying with pre-historic airlines and need to hunt for a more civilised airline.

What has been your experience with Flight Mode on the airlines that you fly?

13 comments

  1. I fly. A lot. I never, and I mean NEVER turn off my phone. Just flight mode. And I listen to music on my noise canceling headphones from when I take a seat to when I disembark. Turning off GW phone full is foolish.

  2. Just like you alluded to, not wanting to create a scene, i always turn off my mobile phones during flights & that has also left me wondering the purpose of a flight mode. And they do insist that mobile phones on flight modes be turned off. But on a second thought perhaps the airlines don’t want to take chances with the flight mode options considering how awkward it would be to check & be sure that each mobile phone in use is actually in flight mode. Because given human nature, some people will not activate the flight mode option rather they will make calls, send sms, chat, browse etc.

  3. Turned my Android phone to an E-reader and since the sim in it is very unpopular with my friends and contact, I leave the phone permanently on flight mode.

  4. the hostesses insist that I turn the device off completely

    Sucn an airline can simply install a device that cuts off mobile communication whenever they wish

    fllight mode is useful when u want no interruptions from calls. It also saves on the battery when you do not want/expect calls.

  5. I always turn off my phone during flights (force of habit) but I leave other stuff like iPod and tablet on. I don’t have much use for any of these on a plane though as domestic flights within Nigeria don’t last very long. I end up dozing through it most times.

  6. I’ve had similar experience with Arik Airlines, Mr. Mobility. I was watching “Mission Impossible 4” on my iPad while travelling by Air from my latest trip to Abuja. And this pretty, but dumb and stupid Hostess came and informed me that I was not listening to the instructions from the captain and that I should turn of the iPad. I explained to her that I listened carfully, & that the Captain spoke of devices with 3G Radio. That the iPad I was using was WiFi only. Morevover, the flight mode was also turned on in addition.

    But the dumb girl insisted I must turn it off and even threatened to call security. I called her dumb to her face and turned it off. And I had the most boring 45 minutes of my life! *Sigh*. I had no paperback novel or magazine or newspaper to read. My worst 45 minutes ever. Trust me!!!. I regretted going by Air honestly! If I had taken Road in comfort, I would have been free to do what I please!

    Fact is, our Airlines are still backwards. And our Hostesses are actually over-zealous. One of them once told one of my colleagues to turn off his portable DvD Player!! The Heck with them! They need to learn a thing or two to be efficient. Finally, perhaps the Engineers and captains themselves are ignorant of mobile and Tech!

    By the way, I made a vehement complaint in the Arik Airline Website and also sent a strongly worded email to them! No reply yet.

  7. A dispensation is coming,where the presidency would have to consult the mobility blog for issues bordering the nation.the guys here are just too toomuch

  8. @Eee.Bee.Kay: that’s all hogwash. Devices in flight mode do not emmit enough radiation to impact electronics – note all the pilots who use iPads in the cockpit during flight.

    @Emmanuel: I think this is the real reason. Too many foolish users don’t know how to activate flight mode. Though these days you can actually leave the phone on in normal mode w/o issue. At least a hand full of phones are on every US domestic flight already.

  9. I have to admit that it’s better for the airline staff to play safe than be sorry later. I believe [I stand to be corrected o!] that more than half of the mobile population in Nigeria wouldn’t know how to properly put their phones in Flight Mode. Some would select Silent Mode instead.

    You have to realize that most of the functioning public aircraft in Nigeria are old, and may not have the necessary equipment to shield the plane’s electronics from mobile RF signals.

  10. the world has moved on. These devices are certified not to cause interference and accept any interference. All d ICC jargons on d small print in device manuals.
    In-flight wifi anyone?

  11. Funny enough just came across this. Virgin to launch in-flight cell phone services.
    m.techcrunch.com/2012/05/14/virgin-atlantic-to-launch-in-flight-cell-phone-service/

  12. Most international flights also require you to either turn off the device or put it in flight mode. As a rule I usually switch it off, partly to save battery, and partly because I have no use for a mobile phone in-flight.

    I have an eReader and an MP3 player to entertain me during flights. I deactivate the 3G and wifi on my eReader, and my MP3 player only goes off when I’m asked to turn it off (which is rarely). Fortunately I always travel with a real book, just in case 🙂

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