What is iPhone Airplane Mode?

Airplane mode for Iphone
Girl uses airplane mode while in flight. Ben Pipe Photography

Anyone who's flown on a commercial plane is familiar with that part of the flight in which we're told to turn off our electronics during takeoff and landing. In between, the flight attendants say, we're allowed to use our devices in safe/airplane mode.

Airplane Mode, the feature you should use for an iPhone or iPod touch on an airplane while it is flying, is safe for in-flight use because it turns off the devices' ability to send and receive wireless data signals, which have the potential to interfere with the plane's communications systems.

On the iPhone, Airplane Mode turns off the phone's connection to data networks (cellular and Wi-Fi), turns off any apps that use wireless networks, Bluetooth, GPS, and other related services.

TIP: Because Airplane Mode disables all networking, it can be helpful when you have very little battery left and need to save battery life.

There are two ways to turn on Airplane Mode; one for use with all iPhones and another only for those running iOS 7 and up.

Enabling Airplane Mode Through Settings

If your phone isn't running iOS 7 or higher, or you just prefer another method, you can turn on Airplane Mode using Settings:

  1. Tap the Settings app to open it
  2. The first option on the screen is Airplane Mode.
  3. Slide it to On/green. You'll see your networking options at the top left of the screen gray out. A small icon of an airplane will appear in their place.
  4. To turn Airplane Mode off, move the slider to Off/white.

    Turning On Airplane Mode Using Control Center 

    If you have an iPhone or iPod touch running iOS 7 or up, you can turn Airplane Mode on and off via Control Center

    1. To access Control Center, swipe up from the bottom of the screen.
    2. At the top left corner of Control Center is an icon of an airplane.
    3. Tap that icon to turn on Airplane Mode (the icon will light up).
    1. To turn the mode off, tap the icon again and it will go gray.

    Connecting to In-Plane Wi-Fi While Using Airplane Mode

    Many planes now offer in-flight Wi-Fi access to allow passengers to 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 service?

    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. If your device is in Airplane Mode and you want to connect to in-flight Wi-Fi, just connect to the Wi-Fi network the way you normally would.

    As long as you don't turn off Airplane Mode, things will be fine.