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What Happens If I Don’t Turn On Airplane Mode When Flying?

The airplane mode rule is a ‘better safe than sorry’ type of rule, but you should still follow it

I generally feel like flying is a crime against God and that there’s absolutely no reason why I should be able to sit comfortably inside a massive aluminum tube hurtling through the sky. I simply trust that science somehow has an explanation, and I ought not to tempt fate by asking any questions. So when the flight attendants say to put my phone in airplane mode, I put that shit in airplane mode. Why exactly me checking Twitter during takeoff could interfere with the whole complex ordeal is beyond me, but I’d prefer not to take any chances. 

And part of the reason why airlines request that you do put your phone on airplane mode is because, well, flying is complex. Airplanes use multiple forms of navigational and communication equipment utilizing radio signals. On a smaller level, your phone does essentially the same thing. While it’s unlikely, it’s possible that your phone’s attempt to send and pick up signals could interfere with the plane’s attempt to do so, as well. And while it’s even more unlikely, your phone’s interference with the plane’s navigational systems could inhibit the pilot’s ability to navigate through hazardous conditions like taking off or landing in dense fog. 

Again, odds are, your phone isn’t going to interfere with the plane’s navigational equipment resulting in a crash, but it’s not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Considering it’s really not that fucking hard to just put your phone on airplane mode, it seems wise to continue to ask passengers to do so. Can you imagine being responsible for hundreds of deaths because you had to send a text to your group chat or something? However minuscule, I don’t want to play those odds. 

Plus, the important thing about airplane mode is just that you have your cellular service turned off. According to the FAA, using wi-fi and Bluetooth is fine because these only use short-wave transmissions that don’t interfere with the plane. So you can still listen to whatever it is you call a “podcast” and check your Instagram likes, after all. 

Beyond that, airplane mode is also for your benefit. While it depends on your phone, carrier and settings, you might get charged roaming fees in the event you keep your data on while flying, especially internationally. On airplane mode, your phone isn’t wasting its data and energy searching for your pathetic little text messages. It’s like, just give it a rest already, you know? If you’re gonna break plane rules, at least pick a fun one. I can only endure the psychic torture of flying by sneaking nips on the plane and watching something like The Meg with no headphones. Honestly, we should all enjoy a few hours free of the obligation to answer any calls.