Grab an Android phone, iPhone, iPad, or even a Windows 10 PC, and you’ll see an airplane mode toggle in the shortcut menu. But what is airplane mode and what does it actually mean? How can you use it to your advantage on your phone or PC?
We’ll answer all your questions about airplane mode and more.
What Is Airplane Mode?
Airplane mode is a setting available on nearly all smartphones, laptops, and similar devices. When you activate airplane mode, it stops all signal transmission from your device. You’ll see an airplane icon in your phone’s status bar when it’s on.
The feature is known as airplane mode because many airlines prohibit wireless devices on their planes, especially when taking off and landing. There’s some debate on whether phones could interfere with the radio equipment in planes, but most think it’s best to err on the side of caution.
What Does Airplane Mode Do?
Airplane mode disables all wireless functions of your phone or laptop, including:
- Cellular connection: You can’t make calls, send text messages, or use mobile data to access the internet.
- Wi-Fi: Your device will disconnect from any existing Wi-Fi connections and won’t connect to any new ones.
- Bluetooth: Bluetooth is a short-range connection that lets you link your phone to speakers, headphones, and more. Airplane mode disables it.
GPS is a bit different. It doesn’t transmit any radio waves, so depending on your phone, airplane mode may or may not turn off GPS. While offline map apps work without an internet connection, features like live traffic won’t work in airplane mode.
How to Toggle Airplane Mode on Android
To enable airplane mode on your Android device, follow these steps:
- Swipe down from the top of the screen two times to open the Quick Settings panel. Alternatively, you can swipe down once using two fingers.
- Look for the Airplane mode toggle in the grid. If you don’t see it, you might need to swipe to the side to access more icons.
- Tap it, and your phone enters airplane mode.
Repeat these steps to disable airplane mode. Note that it may take your phone a moment to reconnect to Wi-Fi and cellular data after leaving airplane mode. If your phone doesn’t have this shortcut for some reason, you can toggle airplane mode at Settings > Network & Internet > Airplane mode.
How to Toggle Airplane Mode on iPhone or iPad
If you’re an iPhone or iPad user, see our guide to airplane mode on iPhone and iPad.
How to Toggle Airplane Mode on Windows and Mac
On Windows 10, you can toggle airplane mode through the Action Center. Press Win + A or click the notification bubble icon in the bottom-right corner of your screen to open it, then look for the Airplane mode toggle at the bottom.
As it turns out, macOS doesn’t have a dedicated airplane mode option. We’ve looked at how to put your MacBook in airplane mode, though.
Does Airplane Mode Save Battery?
Yes, airplane mode definitely helps your device save battery life. The various radios in your phone take up a lot of power. They regularly push app notifications over Wi-Fi, communicate with Bluetooth devices and cell towers, and check your location.
That all drains a lot of power, so disabling them all at once is a great way to keep your phone alive longer. Because your phone doesn’t do as much work in airplane mode, it should also charge faster.
Can You Use Wi-Fi on Airplane Mode?
This depends on your device, but most modern phones allow you to use Wi-Fi even when in airplane mode. When you enable airplane mode, Wi-Fi shuts off, but you can enable it again manually.
On your Android device, swipe down from the top of the screen twice to open Quick Settings again, then tap Wi-Fi. Give it a few seconds, and you’ll see Wi-Fi turn on and connect (if your phone allows this). On an iPhone, open Control Center and tap the Wi-Fi toggle in the same way.
Many airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi, so you can enable this feature to enjoy that if applicable. If you’re not sure, you should check with an airline employee before you try connecting. Planes only allow Wi-Fi above 10,000 feet, however, so take care to keep Wi-Fi turned off during takeoff and landing.
Does Bluetooth Work in Airplane Mode?
This is a similar scenario to the above. Enabling airplane mode disables Bluetooth, but on most phones and laptops you can turn it back on with the shortcut toggle. Airlines don’t care much about Bluetooth, because its range is so short.
Enabling Bluetooth lets you pair your Bluetooth earbuds, keyboard, or similar devices. Even when you’re not in a plane, you can do this to save battery while listening to offline music through Bluetooth headphones.
Does Airplane Mode Use Data?
No, because enabling airplane mode prevents your phone from connecting to your provider’s cell network. You won’t use any data in airplane mode.
What Does Airplane Mode Do for Games?
If you love playing games on your phone but hate the ads, airplane mode can help. Because it disables all internet connections, enabling airplane mode will hide ads in mobile games.
However, this won’t work for games that are always online, so you’ll have to give it a try with your favorites.
Do Alarms Work in Airplane Mode?
Yes, alarms will sound as normal, even in airplane mode. They don’t rely on any kind of internet connection. Open the Clock app on your device and switch to the Alarms tab to set your alarm as normal.
Does Snapchat Work in Airplane Mode?
No. Because Snapchat relies on an internet connection, it won’t work at all in airplane mode.
Can You Receive Calls and Texts in Airplane Mode?
No, because your phone has no connection to cellular service. If someone calls you and your phone is in airplane mode, they’ll reach your voicemail as if your phone was turned off. You’ll see texts that you received when in airplane mode once you disable it.
How to Listen to Music on Airplane Mode
Since you don’t have an internet connection in airplane mode, music streaming apps like Spotify, Google Play Music, and similar won’t work. This means you have two options for listening to music in airplane mode.
First, if you subscribe to the paid versions of these services, like Spotify Premium or YouTube Music Premium, you can download music to your mobile device. This lets you listen to it even in airplane mode.
If you don’t want to pay for a premium streaming subscription, you can still listen to local music you own. You’ll need to sync your music to your phone to do so.
Flying High With Airplane Mode
We’ve answered some of the most common questions about airplane mode on your phone or laptop. In short, it lets you shut off all wireless activity on your device, which is required on some flights and handy even on the ground.
If you’ve got a long flight coming up, we recommend downloading your media to your phone so you aren’t reliant on an internet connection. And if you’re interested in some science on this topic, check out how airplane mode affects your sleep.