How to Use Airplane Mode on iPhone and Apple Watch

Use your iPhone and Apple Watch safely in the air

Anyone who's flown on a commercial airline knows the part of the flight in which we're told that small electronics like smartphones and tablets can only be used in airplane or game mode. 

Airplane Mode is a feature of the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch you should use while on an airplane that turns off the devices' ability to send and receive wireless data. This is a safety precaution because wireless data use has the potential to interfere with the plane's communications systems.

Person using smartphone on airplane.
Ben Pipe Photography

What Does Airplane Mode Do?

Airplane Mode turns off your iPhone's connection to all wireless networks, including cellular and Wi-Fi. It also turns off Bluetooth, GPS, and other related services. That means that apps that use those features won't be able to function properly. 

Because Airplane Mode disables all networking, it can be helpful to use when you have very little battery left and need to save battery life. In a low-battery situation, you may also want to try Low Power Mode instead, since that leaves networking on but conserves battery in other ways. 

Turn on iPhone Airplane Mode Using Control Center 

The easiest way to enable Airplane Mode on the iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch is by using Control Center. You need to be running iOS 7 or higher for this, but virtually any iOS device in use has that.

  1. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen to reveal Control Center (or, on the iPhone X, swipe down from the top right).

  2. Tap the airplane icon in the top left corner of Control Center to turn on Airplane Mode (the icon will light up).

To turn Airplane Mode off, open Control Center and tap the airplane icon again. 

How to Enable iPhone Airplane Mode Through Settings

While Control Center is the easiest way to access Airplane Mode, it's not your only option. You can also do it using the iOS Settings app. Here's how:

  1. Tap the settings app to open it.

  2. The first option beneath your name is Airplane Mode.

  3. Move the slider to on/green.

To turn Airplane Mode off using settings, simply move the slider to off/white.

How to Know When Airplane Mode Is Turned On

It's easy to know whether Airplane Mode is enabled on your iPhone. Just look in the top left corner of the screen (it's the right corner on the iPhone X). If you see an airplane there and don't see Wi-Fi or cellular signal strength indicators, Airplane Mode is currently in use.

How to Connect to In-Plane Wi-Fi While on Airplane Mode

Many airlines now offer in-flight Wi-Fi access to let passengers work, send email, browse the web, or stream entertainment while flying. But if Airplane Mode turns off Wi-Fi, how do iPhone users take advantage of this option?

It's not that difficult, actually. While Airplane Mode does turn Wi-Fi off by default, it doesn't prevent you from turning it back on. To use Wi-Fi on a plane:

  1. Begin by putting your device in Airplane Mode.

  2. Then, without turning off Airplane Mode, turn on Wi-Fi (either through Control Center or Settings). This enables Wi-Fi and Airplane Mode at the same time.

  3. Then just connect to the plane's Wi-Fi network the way you normally would. As long as you don't turn off Airplane Mode, things will be fine.

How to Use Airplane Mode on Apple Watch

You can also use Airplane Mode on the Apple Watch. Doing this is simple. Swipe up from the bottom of the Watch screen. Then tap the airplane icon. You'll know Airplane Mode is enabled because an orange airplane icon is displayed at the top of your watch face.

You can also set your Apple Watch to automatically go into Airplane Mode when you enable it on your iPhone. To do that:

  1. On the iPhone, open the Apple Watch app.

  2. Tap general.

  3. Tap Airplane Mode.

  4. Move the mirror iPhone slider to on/green.

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