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Taking and Using a Mobile Phone on an Aircraft

British Airways aircraft at HeathrowMany technological advances have been developed to allow the use of various electronic devices whilst on board an aircraft. Whilst these changes have improved journeys over the past few years, additional restrictions may now apply depending on the carrier you choose.

Almost all airlines follow FAA rules meaning most of your everyday electrical gadgets can be used from gate to gate without interference.

This guide takes you through the changes in legislation, airport security restrictions and general use whilst you’re travelling on the ground and in the air.

New Additional Security Checks in Force

Changes to entry into the US has some airlines refusing boarding if mobile phones are not fully charged and can’t be switched on. Although this advice has subsequently been changed these tougher rules are here to stay. And it’s not only flights to the US that are affected as some Middle Eastern routes and others to some parts of Africa are being added.

These changes coincide with intelligence and to protect passengers between countries. The downside is that security checks make take longer at some major hubs.

Security checks not only apply to mobile handsets but any other electronic device such as laptops, tablets and gaming machines. To avoid any holdups and the potential confiscation of your prized possessions, here are our tips for a safe journey.

How to Keep Your Device From Being Confiscated

Interior of an airport TerminalNew security controls state you must be able to turn on any electrical device you have on your person. To ensure you can keep these with you during your journey follow these tips:

  • Recharge any devices in the lounge before you enter the security channels.
  • You have just purchased an item take it out of the box and charge it.
  • Better still, ensure these are fully charged before leaving home.
  • If it’s not charged, then place it into your hold luggage.
  • Place items in standby mode for each of switching on in a long queue.

Airlines may confiscate any electronic items without power before your journey commences. You may then have a long wait before your device is returned to you.

Using Devices On an Aircraft

Acceptable airline devicesAlthough restrictions vary from airline to airline the majority of portable electrical appliances can be used throughout your journey. These include popular games consoles, laptops, tablets, phones, e-readers (such as Amazon’s Kindle and Tesco’s Hudl), wireless keyboards and headphones.

Bluetooth connectivity usually has tougher rules to connect once device to another. Usually, you can use these during the main portion of your flight but may be asked to turn them off during take off and landing.

So long as they’re “flight enabled”, these can be used from the terminal and within the aircraft. You should check with your travel agent or airline for current rules and conditions. For example, headphones must be switched off during crew announcements and safety demonstrations.

Turning on Flight Mode

Airplane mode for iPhone 5Definition: A setting for mobile devices that disconnects all wireless activity.

Most airlines allow you to use your mobile and other devices so long as they’re not attempting to connect to a mobile network. Once changed, you’re able to utilise all non-wireless and Bluetooth functions for your entire journey.

There are various ways in which to achieve this, but manufacturers have made this easier with standard flight or airline mode functions. Find your device below and follow the instructions.

  • iPhone: Either drag the air drop menu from the bottom or select from your settings menu.
  • Samsung: Press menu, then settings, and select wireless controls. From this menu select the airplane/ flight mode check box.
  • Blackberry: Select the connections menu from the home screen and click flight mode.

If you don’t have this option, you can select to turn off your mobile connection through your settings menu. Once enabled, you can enjoy all other functions such as offline gaming, videos and music.

Using On-Board Wi-Fi

Many airlines provide paid, or free Wi-Fi on board their aircraft. Simply turn your Wi-Fi connection on and pair to the airline’s network. Follow the instructions provided to start using the service.

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