Everyone knows this: You get on an airplane, sit down, and shortly before take-off you get the announcement: “Please make sure that electronic devices such as smartphones or tablets are switched off or that they are in flight mode.” Something like that are the announcements in every plane. Anyone who refuses can sometimes even be expelled from the plane.
But why are the airlines so strict in this regard? What can really happen? Quite a few passengers suspect that the devices directly interfere with the on-board electronics and could even be responsible for serious incidents. It’s not that drastic, but of course there’s a good reason why every traveler should stick to it and at least switch their devices to flight mode.
Why Airplane mode should be on
The reason is simple: if a mobile phone were not switched off or switched to flight mode, the pilot could, in extreme cases, hear interference noises – similar to those produced by a loudspeaker if you get too close to it with your mobile phone. This could even result in the pilot no longer (perfectly) understanding important radio signals, which could sometimes have serious consequences.
The pilot of a German airline revealed to TRAVELBOOK that this had happened to him a few times, “but without any serious consequences”. Thanks to modern technology, it is “unlikely” that a mobile phone will interfere with the radio signals, the pilot continues, but it cannot be completely ruled out.
The cell phone radiation, which can disrupt the radio waves of the on-board communication system, is to blame. This could become a risk, especially on the approach, if all passengers turn on their cell phones at the same time – and they would then connect to their respective providers. “As a rule, however, these noises no longer reach the pilot at all,” the flight captain reassured.
And what about Bluetooth? Many travelers use their wireless headphones on planes – but the Bluetooth technology required for this was also forbidden on planes until a few years ago. In the meantime, however, the regulations have been relaxed in many cases. You can read more about this here from our colleagues at TECHBOOK.
Use WiFi on the plane
If Bluetooth is not enough for you and you want to be online above the clouds, you can now also use the WiFi on board with almost all airlines. This often costs a surcharge, but is already free with some airlines. On selected routes, passengers can use the service with Delta, Qantas, Emirates, Norwegian and KLM, for example. In some cases, however, there are also restrictions for certain services: For example, it may be permitted to send messages free of charge, but additional costs may be incurred for services that require more data volume, such as streaming.
Conclusion? If you can’t do without the Internet on the plane, you should invest in the WLAN option if in doubt – there is a risk of death if the cell phone is switched on in the plane, even without flight mode, but generally not.