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Heading on a flight soon and wondering if you can use your phone after takeoff?

Many travelers follow airport announcements and switch their devices to airplane mode before departure, but are confused about when it’s allowed to disable it.

Here’s a quick answer: Yes, you can turn off airplane mode after your flight has reached cruising altitude. However, usage restrictions and flight attendant instructions still apply.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explain when and how you can safely turn off airplane mode in flight.

You’ll learn about FAA regulations, airline policies, takeoff and landing procedures, and best practices for electronic device usage mid-flight.

FAA Regulations on Using PEDs In-Flight

When it comes to using Personal Electronic Devices (PEDs) during flights, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has established regulations to ensure the safety and security of all passengers on board.

These regulations are constantly evolving to adapt to the advancements in technology and the changing needs of travelers.

Understanding the FAA regulations can help passengers make informed decisions about using their devices during flights.

Relaxed Rules in 2013

In 2013, the FAA relaxed its rules regarding the use of PEDs during flights. Prior to this change, passengers were required to turn off all electronic devices during takeoff and landing.

However, with the advancements in technology and the increasing demand for connectivity, the FAA recognized the need for a more flexible approach.

As a result, passengers are now allowed to use certain devices throughout the entire duration of the flight, as long as they are in airplane mode.

The FAA’s decision to relax the rules was based on extensive research and testing conducted by aviation experts.

They found that most modern aircraft are equipped with advanced technology that can safely handle the interference caused by PEDs.

However, it is important to note that the FAA still prohibits the use of cell phones for voice calls during flights, even in airplane mode.

Takeoff and Landing Procedures

Although the FAA now allows the use of PEDs during flights, there are still specific procedures that passengers must follow during takeoff and landing.

These procedures are in place to ensure the safety of all passengers and to minimize any potential interference with critical aircraft systems.

  • Takeoff: During takeoff, passengers are required to stow their electronic devices, including laptops and tablets, in the seatback pockets or the overhead bins. This is to ensure that these devices do not become projectiles in the event of an emergency.
  • Landing: Similarly, during landing, passengers are required to stow their electronic devices. This is to prevent any distractions that could impede the evacuation process in case of an emergency.

Airplane Mode Functionality

Airplane mode is a feature available on most electronic devices that disables the device’s wireless connectivity functions, such as cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth.

When activated, airplane mode ensures that the device emits minimal to no electromagnetic interference, which could potentially disrupt the aircraft’s navigation and communication systems.

It is important to note that even in airplane mode, passengers can still use their devices for offline activities like reading e-books, listening to music, or playing games.

However, it is always recommended to follow the instructions provided by the airline crew and to comply with any additional rules or requests they may have.

Airline Policies and Flight Attendant Guidance

When it comes to using electronic devices on a flight, it is important to follow the airline policies and flight attendant guidance. These policies are put in place for the safety and security of all passengers onboard.

Following Crew Member Instructions

Flight attendants play a vital role in ensuring the smooth operation of a flight. They are trained to provide instructions and guidance to passengers, including when it is safe to turn off airplane mode.

It is essential to pay attention to their announcements and follow their instructions regarding the usage of electronic devices.

Flight attendants are responsible for enforcing airline policies and ensuring compliance with regulatory guidelines set by aviation authorities.

Their guidance should be respected and followed at all times to ensure a safe and comfortable journey.

Usage Restrictions Still Apply

While it may be tempting to immediately start using your devices once the aircraft reaches cruising altitude, it is important to note that certain usage restrictions still apply even after takeoff.

These restrictions may vary depending on the airline and the specific flight.

Some airlines may allow the use of specific electronic devices, such as smartphones and tablets, in airplane mode during the entire duration of the flight.

However, other airlines may require devices to remain in airplane mode until given permission by the flight crew.

It is always best to consult the airline’s official website or contact their customer service for the most up-to-date information regarding their specific policies and guidelines.

Connectivity Limitations

Even if you are allowed to turn off airplane mode during the flight, it is important to be aware of the connectivity limitations that may exist.

While some airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi services, the availability and quality of the connection may vary.

It is not uncommon to experience slow internet speeds or intermittent connectivity while onboard an aircraft.

This can be due to various factors, including the limitations of the onboard Wi-Fi system and the number of passengers using it simultaneously.

Keep in mind that certain activities, such as streaming videos or downloading large files, may not be feasible or may be restricted due to limited bandwidth.

It is always a good idea to have offline entertainment options available, such as downloaded movies or music, to ensure a pleasant experience during the flight.

Remember, the primary concern of the airline is the safety and comfort of all passengers.

By following airline policies, adhering to flight attendant instructions, and being mindful of connectivity limitations, you can have a smooth and enjoyable journey.

When It’s Safe to Turn Off Airplane Mode

One common question that arises when flying is when it is safe to turn off airplane mode on your electronic devices.

Airplane mode is a setting on smartphones, tablets, and laptops that disables the wireless functions of the device, including cellular, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth connections.

This mode is required during flight to prevent any potential interference with the aircraft’s communication and navigation systems. However, there are specific times during a flight when it is safe to turn off airplane mode.

After Reaching Cruising Altitude

Once the aircraft has reached its cruising altitude, typically around 10,000 feet, it is generally safe to turn off airplane mode.

At this point, the plane has leveled off, and the pilot has communicated with air traffic control to ensure that it is safe to use electronic devices.

Passengers can then switch off airplane mode and enjoy the use of their devices for entertainment, work, or communication purposes.

With Permission at Lower Altitudes

There are some cases where passengers may be allowed to turn off airplane mode at lower altitudes. Pilots have the discretion to allow the use of electronic devices if they deem it safe.

This is often the case during shorter flights or when the aircraft is descending.

However, it is important to follow the instructions of the flight crew and wait for their permission before disabling airplane mode.

Turning It Back On For Landing

As the aircraft prepares for landing, passengers are typically required to turn on airplane mode again.

This ensures that all electronic devices are in the proper mode in case of an emergency or any potential interference during the landing process.

It is crucial to adhere to the instructions of the flight crew and turn on airplane mode as directed.

Best Practices for Using PEDs In-Flight

Wait for Announcement

When it comes to using your personal electronic devices (PEDs) during a flight, it is important to wait for the announcement from the flight crew before turning off airplane mode.

This announcement usually occurs after the aircraft has reached a safe altitude.

It is crucial to follow the instructions provided by the airline and the flight crew to ensure a safe and enjoyable flight experience for everyone on board.

Keep Volume Down

While using your PEDs in-flight, it is courteous to keep the volume of your devices at a reasonable level. This is especially important if you are using headphones or earbuds.

By keeping the volume down, you can prevent disturbing your fellow passengers and maintain a peaceful environment throughout the flight.

Limit Data Usage

Although some airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi, it is important to keep in mind that data usage may be limited or come at a cost.

To avoid unexpected charges or slow internet speeds, it is recommended to limit your data usage while in-flight.

Consider downloading any necessary content or entertainment before your flight to make the most of your time without relying heavily on internet connectivity.

Charge Devices in Advance

One practical tip for using PEDs in-flight is to ensure that your devices are fully charged before boarding the aircraft.

This will allow you to use your devices throughout the flight without worrying about battery life.

Additionally, some airlines may not have charging outlets available for passenger use, so having a fully charged device will ensure you can enjoy your entertainment or stay connected to your work or loved ones during the entire journey.


While regulations allow passengers to disable airplane mode once the flight has reached cruising elevation, flight crews still have authority on usage permissions.

Following attendants’ guidance, keeping volume low, and limiting data can ensure safe, considerate PED use after takeoff.

By understanding FAA rules, airline policies, and flight procedures around electronic devices, you can confidently use your phone in flight while avoiding disruptions. Just be sure to switch back to airplane mode when landing!

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