Why must you switch off your phone on a plane during takeoff and landing?

Why do airlines instruct you to turn off your phone during takeoff and landing? Does airplane mode make a difference? What happens if you don't turn it off? Here's the answer...

My People,

Before we go into today’s cool topic, I’ve got some great news! Our ‘Fill in the Black’ app is almost ready and we want you (our TVP / SMOT community) to be part of the earliest testers. We are still in testing phase so please keep this to yourself; don’t share with the wider world. You’ve kept big secrets before so I trust you. Here’s the link to the form where you can download the app on Android or iOS and then give us quick feedback about what you liked and what needs to be fixed. I treasure you and your feedback so much. Don’t forget to contact us at TVP Adventures if you would like to travel safely as an individual, as a group, as a company or even just to ask questions.

Now, to the question…why must you turn off your cell phone on a plane?

Many decades ago, aviation authorities required that phones were switched off on flights because they could interfere with signals on the plane or on the ground. Some crew members noted that when a passenger switched on their phone, there was a loss of signal in the cockpit or some instruments malfunctioned. There were also concerns that cell phone signals could interfere with systems on the ground (at the airport) which could affect aircraft communication. Sometimes, these claims were confirmed by studies and other times they were not. In 2016, the US Federal Aviation Administration commissioned a thorough study of cell phone interference. The summary of their study was:

  • There is no proof that cellphones cause any interference on the aircraft or on the ground.

This also meant that there was no proof that the cellphones DID NOT cause any interference. The authorities decided to err on the side of caution and retain instructions to passengers to keep their phones off, especially during the most critical times of take-off, landing and taxiing. Afterall, in the rare occasion that a plane accident occurs, almost 63% of accidents will happen during the take-off or landing phase.

I’m sure you’re rolling your eyes because there are times when you forgot to turn off your phone and nothing happened or for those of you who don’t like instructions, you may have left your phone on just to see what happens. For others, you may have queued up your favorite shows on Netflix or YouTube while looking forward to binge-watching on your flight. Well…

In the last few years, more and more authorities have certified that cell phones do not pose enough of a risk to be turned off during flight. For instance, in 2014, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave airlines permission to decide whether or not to allow the use of cell phones during take-off, landing and taxiing as long as the phones are on airplane mode. Airplane mode effectively shuts down the transmissions that may or may not cause interruptions in aircraft communication. However, because of how crucial flight safety is, many airlines have kept the century-old practice of asking passengers to turn off their cellphones or use them in airplane mode. If an airline has the authority to determine the rules onboard, you do not want to disobey the instructions of the crew or you could be kicked off the flight. Also, many airlines provide in-flight entertainment for long-haul flights to keep you busy. You may even have access to free or paid in-flight WiFi to help you stay connected to the world, once your craft has reached cruising altitude.

For most airlines, these rules allow them comply with federal, regional or other safety authorities. For others, it is good practice to ensure that passengers do not interrupt the flight experience of their fellow passengers due to loud and long calls over the phone. So, either way, you’ll either enjoy a silent flight, a safe flight, or both!

Whatever you do, and no matter how often you fly, make sure you listen to the instructions before each flight and do exactly what the particular airline tells you to do.

Have you ever wondered why these rules were in place? Will you be keeping your phone on (on airplane mode) where it is allowed or would you rather stick to the in-flight entertainment?

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