Can You Text on a Plane?



Not so many years ago, people just accepted that when they were flying, they were shut off from the rest of the world and couldn’t communicate with anyone. But these days, people want to be online 24/7, sadly.

I am happy to enjoy relative peace and quiet on a plane just to read a book (like an old-fashioned Kindle but on paper) or watch a movie on the inflight entertainment system. The rest of the world can survive without contacting me every 5 minutes.

So, can you text while on a plane to send your wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, friend, colleague or whoever a message when you are on a plane? Perhaps as we are talking about text that should read, “Can u text on a plane?”

Can You Text on a Plane

Can you text on an airplane? You can send text messages on a plane in some circumstances. Cellular data and texting services may not be available during the flight as they are often restricted. You can use alternative methods like Wi-Fi-based texting services provided by certain airlines or messaging apps that operate via an internet connection.


Can you text on a plane?

As most people know, it is a requirement, by law, to have your phone either powered off or set in Airplane or Flight Mode when taxiing, during take-off, landing and also while in the air. If you forget, the flight attendants are certain to remind you.

When a phone is switched to Airplane Mode, it can no longer access a cellular network.

No cellular connection means passengers cannot send texts, make phone calls, or access cellular data through their internet provider.

Having said that, a few airlines are now installing an SMS system on their aircraft, which allows you to send and receive your SMS text messages. For example, Qatar Airways has installed OnAir’s GSM network on some of its aircraft, allowing this.

Can you use your phone on a plane?

Although cellphones/smartphones must have Airplane Mode switched on, you can still use mobile phones to play games, listen to music, take a selfie, or use any other apps that do not require you to stay connected to the internet.

If the aircraft has in-flight wi-fi, you can use that internet access to many other apps.

Can you text while flying with wifi?

A few years ago, accessing the internet while flying would have been impossible, so you could not use any messaging app. But fortunately, having an inflight wi-fi network is becoming more common now.

With wi-fi enabled flights, you can connect to an airplane’s wi-fi and have internet access. On some flights, you may have limited free internet access, so you will probably have to pay extra to access it. However, business travelers in business class will probably have free access.

With wi-fi access to the internet, although you will not be able to send or receive SMS text messages or make phone calls, you will be able to use text messaging apps such as WhatsApp, iMessage, Facebook Messenger, etc, and certain apps with similar functionality.

Even if you have access to the aircraft’s wi-fi, in most cases, you cannot make voice or video calls or even send photos, as these require a faster connection than most aircraft currently provide.

Gogo Internet Inflight

If you are on a flight that offers a Gogo wi-fi connection, then I believe T-mobile customers can access it for free or at least get free texting.

According to the gogo website, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Virgin America Airlines offer it on most domestic flights. On international flights, it is available on Aeromexico, Air Canada, American Airlines, Delta Airlines, Japan Airlines, Virgin Atlantic, Virgin Australia and British Airways.

Is airplane mode necessary?

Airplane mode is necessary if you don’t want a big fine. The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) regulates the use of cell phones in the air, which the FAA endorses.

There are two reasons why you are not allowed to send SMS texts, make cell phone calls on a plane, or even have the cellphone capabilities of your phone or other electronic devices switched on in flight.

  • It is believed that using a cell phone in flight may interfere with the aircraft systems and cause them to malfunction. Obviously, in theory, at least, this could have catastrophic consequences for flight safety.
  • The cellphone system uses transmitters/receivers regularly, producing a “cell” – hence the name.
    • If you are stationary, then you are connected to the nearest cell.
    • If you travel in a car, moving from one cell to another, the phone automatically transfers to the next. Cells are reasonably large, so as you are unlikely to travel faster than 60-70 miles per hour, you will only move to a different cell every few minutes.
    • If you fly at 600mph or more, your phone will attempt to change cells every few seconds. This could not only confuse your phone but also could lead to disruption of the cell phone system.

Should voice calls be allowed on a plane?

Text on a Plane

I am quite happy you can’t use your cell phone on a plane to make calls; I hope that never changes.

Can you imagine being on a 12-hour flight and sitting near other passengers who are constantly making and receiving calls on their phones? I have experienced this annoying activity on trains many times, and let me tell you, there are times when I have wanted to snatch the person’s phone and throw it out of the window or put it somewhere!

How to use the aircraft’s wi-fi in airplane mode

Many think all communication with the outside world is switched off once you hit the airplane mode button.

While that is true when you first switch to airplane mode, that doesn’t mean that you cannot switch some of the communication settings back on and for it to still be in airplane mode.

The main reason we have to switch on airplane mode before take-off is to switch off the cellphone capabilities of the phone, which, they say, can interfere with the aircraft’s systems as they are radio signals.

Airplane mode turns off all communications when in this mode, primarily because until recently, wi-fi wasn’t available on aircraft, so there was no reason for it to be on.

This isn’t the case with Bluetooth, which you have been able to use with compatible headphones/earbuds, etc, for some time. However, you must enable Bluetooth as it switches off when entering airplane mode.

Please read my other post to find out more about using devices with Bluetooth headphones on a plane.

How to switch wifi on in airplane mode

How to do this may vary from phone to phone, but the principle will be the same on all phones. The following are examples of a Huawei Android phone and an iPhone.

Switching on wifì in Airplane Mode on Android
Switching on wifì in Airplane Mode on Android
Switching on wifì in Airplane Mode on iPhone
Switching on wifì in Airplane Mode on iPhone
  • Step 1 – This is the normal quick settings menu, which I access by swiping down from the top of my home screen (twice to open it fully) on my Android cellphone. As you can see, Wi-Fi (the first icon) is on, and airplane mode is switched off.
  • Step 2 – Turn on airplane mode by selecting it, and you can see that the cellphone functions have been switched off and wi-fi has been.
  • Step 3 – By clicking on the wi-fi icon, it is now switched back on, but the phone remains in Airplane Mode. The phone can now be used to access the onboard wi-fi.


Can I text on a plane? This is a common question that many passengers ask when they board an aircraft. The answer varies depending on the airline and the specific regulations in place. Most airlines generally allow passengers to use their mobile devices in “airplane mode” during the flight. This disables cellular service but allows for other functions such as taking photos, playing games, or listening to music.

However, there are certain restrictions during takeoff and landing, where all electronic devices must be turned off or put in airplane mode to ensure safety. Additionally, some airlines do not permit the use of electronic devices throughout the flight. Passengers must familiarize themselves with their airline’s cellphone usage policies to avoid potential violations and ensure a smooth and enjoyable journey.


What happens when someone texts you on airplane mode?

Assuming you have no wi-fi on board, you cannot use an SMS text messaging app, so you will not receive text messages while you are in Aircraft Mode. These text messages will sit in a queue for you to return to a mobile phone network. After you land and switch off Airplane Mode, you will receive text messages sent to you.

What happens when someone calls you on Airplane mode?

If someone tries to call you while your phone is switched to Airplane Mode, they will get a message stating that you are unavailable. They will normally be able to leave you a voice message.

Will I get roaming charges if my phone is on airplane mode?

Since your phone cannot connect to a cellular connection while in airplane mode, you cannot send messages and will not get roaming charges.

Can you use mobile data on a plane?

On a plane, you must have Airplane Mode on and active on your phone. This means that you cannot access your mobile data.

Can you text on a plane with iPhone?

Using in-flight Wi-Fi and iMessage or other internet-based messaging services, you can text on a plane with an iPhone. However, you cannot use cellular service to send SMS texts while in flight.

Can you text on a plane without wifi?

No, you generally cannot text on a plane without Wi-Fi using traditional SMS, as cellular service is typically unavailable or turned off (airplane mode) during flights. However, some airlines may offer in-flight text messaging services that do not require a Wi-Fi connection.

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