Can You Text On A Plane?

If you’re on your first flight, you might not be aware of specific protocols or rules regarding technology use, and you don’t want to have a flight attendant giving you a polite telling-off for something you didn’t know beforehand.

Can You Text On A Plane

And you also want to have an easy flight, which means making the flight comfortable for the other passengers around you, as you don’t want to be a nuisance, especially during those long flights.

So while it is possible to text on a plane, there are a few exceptions to this action, but what are these exactly, and are there any limits on what you can do?

In this article, we’ll look at the rules surrounding texting and how you can be a considerate passenger that can make the flight more bearable for those around you. Read on to find out how you can have a much more comfortable flight.

Texting On Planes

While this is allowed, there are exceptions, so you’ll have to turn on the airplane mode on your phone as you take off, and you’ll have to enable your WiFi to connect to the plane’s WiFi, and you can use iMessage, Facebook messenger, or WhatsApp. 

If you’re hoping to send SMS messages, which are texts limited to 160 characters, you’ll find that this doesn’t work as these types of messages rely on cell phone networks.

This also applies to MMS messages, so those that contain media or images have a good chance that these won’t go through. 

WiFi could make sending texts harder as there might be many people using the inboard WiFi, so you will have to be patient here as this extends to social media apps, which can have some features restricted as these apps can consume a lot of data.

If you were thinking of using your cellular data, think again, as FCC regulations don’t allow you to use this feature on your phone, but you might be able to use these features right until you set off. 

Why Are There Regulations Around Texting?

The reason that phone use is limited in this way is due to the FAA’s insistence that wireless devices can cause interference to the aircraft’s navigation and communication systems, which might be more applicable to older types of aircraft.

Another reason is more of a consideration, but it has to do with the social aspect of using such a device, as this could lead to people having disruptive phone conversations.

This might not be something the FAA has considered, but it is a consideration nonetheless that can make flights more bearable without someone shouting down their end of the phone.

This regulation might also consider that people have worries about terrorism, that being the ability to activate explosives by using a phone, and this restriction goes some way to ease those concerns.

There are debates over whether using wireless devices has a negative effect on the aircraft’s systems, and given that some people forget to switch their phone to airplane mode, this has put into question the restriction in the first place.

What Happens If I’m Caught Not Using Airplane Mode? 

There is a bit of a discrepancy over how certain airlines deal with this issue, and in some cases, if pilots encounter any interference, it’s a tell-tale sign that many people are using their phones without airplane mode switched on. 

If this is the case, a flight attendant will warn the passengers to follow the rules, and as this goes against FCC rules, if you are caught, this could see the suspension of service and a fine, which is something you want to avoid.

It’s not clear how much the fine is, but if you outright refuse to turn your airplane mode on, you might see that the airline you have arranged could cancel your return flight, which will be an inconvenience for you.

There are those cases where a few people don’t have it switched on, and it hasn’t had any negative effect on the communication systems, but it is due to the feedback noise that many phones can produce, which can distract pilots and cause issues.

To be a considerate passenger, you should switch it on when you’re instructed to do so, and unfortunately, this won’t change unless the rules are changed, which might not be anytime soon.

Do I Need To Charge My Phone Before My Flight?

This depends on the airline company you are flying with, and while many modern aircraft have USB connections, some don’t, so you might want to bring a portable charger.

Can You Text On A Plane (1)

Note that for security reasons, you might be asked to switch on your phone, and if it doesn’t turn on for any reason, you may not be allowed to bring it on board. 


As much as you’d like to stay in contact with friends and family, there are occasions when it can be a good idea to switch off and take some time to yourself, as we didn’t mention that electronic batteries are considered a fire hazard, so bear this in mind when being notified of the rules. 

You could consider this gesture of airplane mode as a positive one towards the pilot crew as you want them to be able to do their job safely and effectively.

And we know there are a handful of people who ignore these rules, and pointing them out to the host team might cause unnecessary confrontation, which can make your flight more uncomfortable. 

You can still have a comfortable flight by using the plane’s WiFi, so there are still many things that you can do while in the air, and it might give you a chance to catch up with a good book or even learn a new skill. Thank you for reading.

Jodie Price
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