Skip to flight searchSkip to main content

Flying with a Mobile (Cell) Phone

Flying with a Mobile (Cell) Phone

Have you ever wondered why it is so important to turn off electronic devices when travelling on a plane? Discover the rules and regulations around flying with a mobile cell phone here.

Mobile Phone

Are Mobile Cell Phones allowed to be used on planes?

Whether you're checking through your messages or your pictures and videos, a mobile cell phone has become part of our lives. The US Federal Communications Commission prohibits the use of mobile cell phones on a plane as it disrupts cellular towers on the ground, however, the Federal Aviation Administration leaves it to the airlines to decide if it doesn't interfere with the aircraft's communication and navigation.

Many airlines around the world don't allow the use of mobile cell phones on a flight and those that do, ban the use of it during take-off and landing. Airlines that allow the use of mobile cell phones on a flight advise to switch off the cellular radio, in other words, activate Airplane Mode. It turns out there is a good reason behind this and it's not a myth that flight attendants tell you before a flight.

You’re allowed to turn on the Wi-Fi after an announcement is made—usually when the plane flies 10,000 feet above land—that it’s safe to connect to the in-flight network which is available on the many new aircraft out there.

Some Airlines Regulations on Flying with a Mobile Cell Phone:

 - On March 2008, Emirates flights began allowing in-flight voice calls on some commercial airline flights.

 - Since August 2014, Qantas allowed mobile cell phones to be used on the flight only if they were in flight mode. Jetstar (owned by Qantas) adopted the same regulation in August 2014.

 - On February 2009, Ryanair started to permit passengers to use their mobile cell phones in-flight.

Turkish Airlines
 - Turkish Airlines states that mobile cell phones interfere with flight instruments and have a negative effect on flight safety.

Trusted globally

Rated Excellent on Trustpilot

We’re super proud of our Trustpilot rating, but don’t just take it from us. See why millions of others love booking their flights through Alternative Airlines

Flying with a Mobile (Cell) Phone FAQs

What are the rules for flying with a mobile cell phone?

Regulation in the US - the Federal Communication Commission has banned the use of mobile phones on all aircraft in-flight, whereas the Federal Aviation Administration leaves it to the airlines to decide if it doesn't interfere with the aircraft's communication and navigation.

Regulation in Europe 
- On September 2014, the European Aviation Safety Agency lifted its ban on mobile cell phone use on flights.

Regulation inChina
 - As of 2018, Chinese regulations (as well as the major Chinese airlines such as China Southern AirlinesChina Eastern Airlines and Air China) allow phone usage in flight mode.

Regulation in India
 - On January 2018, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India allowed the use of mobile phones and internet access through Wi-Fi onboard all flights operating in Indian airspace. However, passengers are only permitted to make phone calls when the aircraft is at an altitude of over 3,000 metres (9,800 ;ft).

You can also find out more on rules and regulation when flying with a laptop and power bank here, or about flying with other electrical items here.

Can I send a text whilst on a flight?

The answer depends on the airline you're flying with as some airlines don't permit passengers to use the cellular connection of portable electronic devices, where they can’t send SMS text messages. However, some airlines provide an in-flight mobile service called 'OnAir' and 'AeroMobile' where you can send and receive SMS messages and allow you to use a 2G mobile connection.

Alternatively, more and more airlines including Delta, JetBlue, Qatar Airlines and Emirates are adding Wi-Fi connectivity onto their aircraft which passengers can connect to through a messaging app that offers the same use as WhatsApp. If your plane has Wi-Fi, you are free to email, browse the web and use social media.

Can I make a call whilst on a flight?

It depends on the destination you're flying from and to. It's not permitted to call on domestic airlines, however many international airlines, in fact, though many only offer the service on select routes. Among the carriers that let fliers chat in addition to text and browse the web are Emirates, Etihad Airways and Qantas.

Alternatively, many airlines have special phones built-in which can be used to make calls from the plane. The cost of such calls is very high and these can be best used during an emergency.

Can I listen to music or play games on my phone whilst on a flight?

Yes, absolutely. However, make sure you've turned on the airplane mode on your Mobile Cell Phone so that you don't cause any interference with the aircraft.

Do airlines have Wi-Fi onboard?

An increasing number of airlines are innovating and adding in Wi-Fi connectivity onto their aircraft. The answer for this depends on the aircraft you're flying with.

Do airport scanners damage mobile cell phones?

Mobile Cell Phones and any other electronic devices are not damaged by the x-ray radiation emitted by airport scanners.