How to Use Airplane Mode on iPhone and Apple Watch

Use your iPhone and Apple Watch safely in the air

Anyone who's taken a flight in recent years is familiar with the part of the flight in which we're told that small electronics like smartphones can only be used in airplane mode. 

Airplane Mode is a feature of the iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple Watch you should use while on an airplane. It 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.

The information in this article applies to all recent versions of the iPhone running iOS 7 or newer. It also applies to all recent models of the Apple Watch.

What Does iPhone 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 while Airplane Mode is enabled. 

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 turned on and conserves battery in other ways. 

How to 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. Here's what to do

iPhone Airplane Mode

iPhone image: Apple 

  1. Open Control Center (On the iPhone X and newer, swipe down from the top right. On older models, swipe up from the bottom).

  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 so it's not lit up. 

How to Enable iPhone Airplane Mode Using 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:

Screenshot of Airplane Mode enabled in the iPhone Settings app
  1. Tap the Settings app to open it.

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

  3. Move the Airplane Mode slider to on/green.

To turn Airplane Mode off using Settings, simply repeat these steps and move the slider to off/white.

How to Know When Airplane Mode Is Turned On

Screenshot showing Airplane Mode icon on iPhone lock screen

It's easy to know whether Airplane Mode is enabled on your iPhone. Just look in the top corner of the screen (the right corner on the iPhone X and newer; left corner on older models). 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

Most airlines offer in-flight Wi-Fi 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, follow these steps:

  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. Connect to the plane's Wi-Fi network the way you would normally to any Wi-Fi network. 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 face 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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