Mobile phones and internet access on airplanes

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Mobile phones and internet access on airplanes

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We live in a world where mobile communication is valued so much that many do not want to part with it for even a short time. Since their inception, laws in most places have banned or heavily restricted the use of mobile phones and internet access while in the air. Changes in the laws and advances in technology have made both possible on many flights

The laws are constantly changing as the safety of using electronics in the sky is being evaluated.

Cellular access[edit]


In Europe, it is now permitted to access the internet using a mobile phone signal while on an airplane. There may be a fee charged by the airline. Most airlines do not allow talking while in the air, but do allow passengers to engage in silent activities, including texting and internet.

United States[edit]

In the United States, it is now permitted to leave all electronic devices on during takeoff and landing on airlines that have proven to FAA officials that such devices do not interfere with their equipment.

Use of these devices is permitted throughout the flight except for phone conversations.

It is currently not possibly to get a mobile phone signal at above 30,000 feet, so it is recommended to place the device on airplane mode to avoid draining the battery, which probably cannot be recharged during the flight.

Airlines with WiFi[edit]

The following is a partial list of airlines that offer WiFi for a fee on some of their planes:

  • AirTran
  • Delta
  • Southwest
  • Japan Airlines
  • Norwegian
*WiFi is free on Norwegian

Overseas flights[edit]

Currently, there is no internet access available while a plane is flying overseas. This may change in the upcoming years. If so, it may come at a heavy cost, similar to that of cruise ships.

In the absence of a connection[edit]

It may be hard for some to spend hours, sometimes more than half a day, without being able to communicate at all with the outside world. But there are things you can do to make the time go fast and best prepare your devices for the sky.

  • Downloading in advance: Before the time of the flight, download whatever movies, music, games, e-books, and apps you wish to use during the flight.
  • Airplane mode: While the plane is still on the ground, prior to takeoff, put your device in airplane mode. Depending on the laws of the country where you are, you may or may not be required to power off your device before takeoff and landing. If this is the case, the device must be on airplane mode before takeoff, so when you power it back on when allowed, it'll be on airplane mode then. To do this, first place your device on airplane mode while on the ground, shortly before takeoff. Then power down your device. Then once the plane is in the air, when the announcement comes that these devices will be allowed, power it on, and you can use it for all the offline uses it offers.
  • Apps you can use offline: There are many apps you can use offline while in the air. Some of these include some, but not all games, word processors and notes (though they will not sync the info via a cloud connection until you are back online), e-books, music, and movies. Some maps apps will allow you to save maps of a certain area in advance (though this will take up storage space), allowing you to study the maps in the air.

See also[edit]