The real reason to put the phone in airplane mode when traveling

  • Doug Drury
  • The Conversation*

A woman talks on the phone inside an airplane.

Credit, Getty Images

photo caption,

Why can’t we use the cell phone in normal mode, even with so many advances in digital technology in recent decades?

All of us who travel by plane know the routine by heart: “keep your seatbacks upright, your tables closed and locked, your blinds up, your laptops in overhead compartments, and your electronics in airplane mode.”

The first four seem reasonable, right? The blinds need to be up so we can see if there’s an emergency, like a fire. Tables need to be closed and seats upright so we can get out quickly. Laptops can become projectiles in an emergency, and their seat storage locations aren’t strong enough to contain them.

And cell phones need to be in airplane mode so they don’t cause an emergency for the aircraft, right? Well, that depends on the person you ask.

Technology has advanced a lot

Navigation and air communication rely on radio services, which have been coordinated to minimize interference since the 1920s.

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