The Importance of Putting Your Phone on Airplane Mode During Flights

In a soaring TED-Ed lesson written by Dr. Lindsay DeMarchi and directed by Sofia Pashaei, narrator Addison Anderson explains why it is important to put your phone in “airplane mode” while flying.

Right now, invisible signals are flying through the air all around you. Massive radio waves carry information between computers, GPS systems, cell phones, and more. And the sky is flooded with interference from routers, satellites, and, of course, people flying who haven’t put their phones on airplane mode

While airplane mode certainly gives everyone on the plane a reprieve from loud phone conversations, the real reason for turning off has to do with the radio signals an active phone puts out and how these wavelengths interfere with crucial incoming flight information.

You see, this setting isn’t to protect your flight, it’s to protect everyone else in your flight path. Cell phones connect to networks by emitting information in the form of electromagnetic waves; specifically, radio waves, which occupy this band of the electromagnetic spectrum. …So when you fly without using airplane mode, you’re essentially acting as a military radio jammer— sending out giant radio waves that interfere with nearby signals.

Lori Dorn
Lori Dorn

Lori is a Laughing Squid Contributing Editor based in New York City who has been writing blog posts for over a decade. She also enjoys making jewelry, playing guitar, taking photos and mixing craft cocktails.