Updated on February 5, 2024.
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At key points of your flight, you’ll be instructed to place your phone in airplane mode. This prevents the signals from interfering with the flight equipment during take-off, landing, turbulence, or other critical moments. This renders it effectively a fancy clock for the time being, and you’re unable to do much with it, including receiving or making phone calls.

Key Takeaways

  • Activating airplane mode on your phone is crucial during flights to prevent signal interference with the aircraft’s critical equipment. It disables cellular network and Wi-Fi connections, ensuring a safe and smooth flight experience.
  • When your phone is in airplane mode, you won’t be able to receive or make phone calls, and incoming calls will be directed to voicemail. Text messages will also be inaccessible until you disable airplane mode upon landing.
  • In case of emergencies, inform relevant parties about your flight information to alert the airline if necessary. While in airplane mode, people trying to reach you in emergencies can leave a voicemail or try emailing you, if the aircraft has Wi-Fi available.
  • Despite some claims, receiving calls in airplane mode is not possible. Any instances where someone receives calls are likely due to the phone not being in airplane mode or accidentally being taken out of it.
  • Although some phones may enable calling over Wi-Fi, this technology is unreliable on planes. It’s best to wait until you are safely on the ground and out of airplane mode before communicating with others.

Why Can’t I Receive Calls in Airplane Mode?

Your cell phone works because it’s connected to a cellular network. It also has wifi, which allows you to connect to the internet wirelessly. These are the two most powerful features when it comes to making your phone work like a phone. When you turn your phone on airplane mode, you effectively disable these features.

Without cell service, you are unable to receive or make phone calls. If someone calls you, it will go straight to voicemail. If they try to text you, you will be unable to receive messages. Both of these features are disabled when your phone is in airplane mode, so if you are waiting for something important, you’ll need to hang tight until you land to communicate.

What If There’s an Emergency?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if there’s an emergency and someone needs to get ahold of you when your phone is in airplane mode. They’ll just need to leave a message. They could try to reach you via email. If the plane has wifi, you should be able to access it, though that technology can be spotty and varies from plane to plane and airline to airline.

Once you are back on land and switch off airplane mode, you will be able to receive calls as normal once your service is back. Give it a few moments to refresh once it does. You won’t be able to see what missed calls you have, but you will be able to see texts and voicemails at a glance.

Why Have I Received Calls on Airplane Mode?

Can You Receive Calls in Airplane Mode

Many people have said they’ve received phone calls even when their phones are in airplane mode. Unfortunately, this is not possible. Instead, they likely did not actually place the phone in airplane mode, or the phone was unlocked and took itself out of airplane mode, much like a butt dial or text.

Airplane mode turns off the cell service, which is needed to receive and make calls. In select cases, you may be able to make calls over wifi without service; however, this technology is unreliable. It’s best to communicate once you are safely at your final destination or prior to taking off.

Make sure to share your flight information with the appropriate parties so they can alert the airline in case of an emergency as well.

Conclusion

You cannot receive calls when your phone is in airplane mode because your cell service has been disabled. Callers will be directed to voicemail, and you can receive their message when your phone is out of airplane mode. Some people may try to make calls over wifi, but this will not work on a plane.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I use Wi-Fi for making calls in airplane mode?

While some phones allow calling over Wi-Fi, this feature is unreliable on planes, and it’s generally best to wait until you land and disable airplane mode to make or receive calls.

  • Will I receive missed call notifications once I exit airplane mode?

Unfortunately, no. When your phone is in airplane mode, it doesn’t receive notifications for missed calls. However, you will be able to see missed text messages and voicemails once you exit airplane mode.

  • Can I use Bluetooth or listen to music while in airplane mode?

Yes, you can use Bluetooth to connect to wireless headphones or other accessories while in airplane mode. Listening to music stored locally on your phone is also possible, as long as the content is not being streamed online.

  • What happens if I accidentally make a call in airplane mode?

If you accidentally make a call while your phone is in airplane mode, the call will not go through, and you will receive a notification or an error message indicating that the call cannot be completed.

  • Is it safe to use my phone during the flight even if it’s not in airplane mode?

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) recommends using airplane mode during the flight, but it’s generally safe to use your phone for other purposes like reading e-books, playing offline games, or taking photos, as long as it remains in airplane mode. However, always follow the instructions of the flight crew and airline policies.