You should always put your phone on airplane mode for safety.
If you’ve been on a flight at least once and paid attention to the safety instructions, you may have heard the flight or cabin crew asking you to switch off your devices or activate airplane mode. This includes all smartphones, tablets, and laptops.
Because of this, a mobile phone can inadvertently pick up a signal causing cross-talk or adjacent-channel interference. The same is evident when you are listening to the radio in your car and cannot hear the broadcast clearly because a signal from another radio station interferes with it. Because of safety, pilots need clear communications, and an errant telephone call on your mobile can compromise that.
Once in airplane mode, your phone will stop receiving radio signals, texts, calls, access to webpages, and email. Text messages or other data already downloaded and stored information are still accessible.
Concerns around 5G
Setting your phone to flight mode is even more critical nowadays as service providers switch to 5G. With 5G, even though planes fly at over 30,000 feet, the signals generated by ground antennas could interfere with the aircraft’s radio altimeters. During the aircraft’s descent and landing, interference from a mobile device could lead to the pilots not knowing how far they are from the ground.
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This has little to do with phone usage but more with cell towers. Recently, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave service providers the green light to install 5G towers near US airports, raising concerns about flight disruptions. However, this is not an issue for aircraft whose radio altimeters are protected against 5G interference.
This may now have you wondering why it is possible to have inflight WiFi if the signals can interfere with communication devices and altimeters. The answer is simple; inflight WiFi is provided by satellites, not antennas on the ground. You may have noticed that switching on other services like Bluetooth and WiFi is still possible while flight mode is on.
What if I forget to turn on airplane mode?
Obviously, several flights still take off and land safely with passengers having not turned on airplane mode, but there is a possibility of that changing for Android users. According to the Android Authority, Google is looking to develop a ‘Connect Flight Mode’ feature allowing smartphones to automatically switch to airplane mode after boarding a flight.
In conclusion, while the chances of you causing the plane to crash are remote, you do not want to chance it. At the end of the day, all flight regulations are meant to ensure the safety of passengers and crew, so it is always best to comply.
Source: Simple Flying