What is Airplane Mode and What Are Its Functions?

June 3, 2022 • Shannon Flynn


Airplane mode is a setting for computers, tablets and smartphones. It comes in handy in many situations, but it can be difficult to know when to turn it on/off for those who are unfamiliar with its function. So what is Airplane mode, and what exactly does it do? We’ll answer these questions and more.

Airplane Mode’s Functions

People primarily use Airplane mode to turn off their device’s WiFi connectivity. It also disables the following functions:

  • Mobile data services
  • Radio frequency
  • Analog voice
  • GPS

It can also disable Bluetooth depending on the device’s manufacturer. In a nutshell, it disables all of your device’s wireless transmissions. You can’t use any method of communication or browse the internet. Developers gave this function its name because it was primarily used so mobile devices didn’t interfere with communication on commercial flights.

Bluetooth is usually safe from Airplane mode because many people use wireless headphones on airplanes, so developers wanted that feature to be available for their customers at all times. Here are the other things you can still do with Airplane mode:

  • Manage contacts and messages
  • Take/edit photos and videos
  • Play offline games
  • Use downloaded content (videos, Ebooks, etc.)

Interestingly, you can have the mode enabled and turn specific wireless features back on. Your device will connect to the available WiFi network without issue, but its radio frequency will still be disabled. However, it’s most effective with every wireless feature turned off. Airplane mode also accomplishes the following:

  • Isolates your device, giving you privacy
  • Conserves your device’s battery and data
  • Stops embarrassing messages from reaching their destination (if you act quickly)
  • Helps with troubleshooting

As you can see, Airplane mode is much more versatile than it leads on. The name still accurately represents its primary role on commercial flights, but it can prove useful in a number of everyday situations.

Turning On Airplane Mode

Turning on it on only takes a few seconds, whether you’re using a laptop, tablet or cell phone. We’ll quickly go through the steps for each one.

The easiest way for tablets and phones is to swipe down on the screen and reveal the quick-access control panel. You should see the airplane icon in the top left corner.

Tap on the airplane icon to activate it. The icon should turn orange, while the green radio frequency icon should lose its coloring. You can also disable the blue WiFi and Bluetooth features if you want.

Enabling Airplane mode for laptops is also easy. Just click on the WiFi icon on the taskbar at the bottom of the screen, then press the button directly above. You can’t miss it.

Take Advantage of This Feature

Don’t just reserve Airplane mode for flying. Take advantage of it whenever you can. Use it to conserve your device’s battery or save you from an awkward situation. Turn it on in the gym or at work to stay focused. It’s more than just a commercial flight tool and you should use it as such.