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Does Bluetooth work in Airplane mode?

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  • 4 min read

Whether you are traveling on an airplane or avoiding someone, turning on the Airplane mode works like a charm. It allows you to use other apps on your phone, granted that they are apps that work without any internet connectivity. You can even play downloaded videos or games on your device. However, if you want to connect your Bluetooth headphones to your device, will you be able to?

In this article, we will be pondering over the question of whether Bluetooth can work in airplanes and in airplane mode.

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The relation between airplane mode and Bluetooth

There isn’t any specific relationship between airplane mode and Bluetooth. If you are not flying on an airplane, then you can slide down the icon or control panel on your device where icons for airplane mode and Bluetooth are side-by-side, here you can switch on Bluetooth and simultaneously place your device on airplane mode. You will notice that the airplane mode does not interfere with the settings of Bluetooth.

Yes, you can use Bluetooth when your device is on airplane mode.

Then why is it that some airlines ask you to switch off Bluetooth when flying?

The plane factor

Around the world, the crew members on every airplane ask their passengers to switch off their mobile devices or place them in airplane mode. While there was fear in the early nineties about mobile signals disrupting the navigation system on an aircraft and interfering with radio signals. However, it was gathered later that, while all electronic devices are not harmful at the moment, the same could not be said for the future.

When your phone works on mobile data, then it connects to the tower nearest to its vicinity when you are on land. In the air, your phone can connect to thousands of towers due to zero obstructive objects in between your phone and those clearly visible cell towers. As your phone might try to connect to the thousands of cell towers as it travels through the sky, it might cause confusion and a load on various cell towers as all phones on every flight will do the same.

Hence, you are asked to keep your phone on airplane mode, as most often than not, you are flying at or usually below Flight Level 450 or Flight Level 430, which means that you are beyond the connectivity range of cell towers. This is precisely why you are asked to switch off or place your phones on airplane mode during landing and take off, as yours and the mobile signals from the phones of 200 other passengers will try to latch on to a signal from nearby cell towers, causing a confusion, jamming, or loss of radio contact with the ATC tower for pilots in the cockpit.

The Bluetooth factor

As Bluetooth does not have as wide or long a range as mobile signals, many airlines allow the usage of Bluetooth wireless devices on their aircraft. However, this rule varies from aircraft to aircraft. In 2013, USA’s FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) allowed airlines to allow passengers to use electronic devices like small Bluetooth devices nonetheless, the airline gets to decide which devices are permitted.

Since Bluetooth has a short range of connectivity, it ceases to cause hindrance to the operations of the aircraft. If a crew member ever asks you to switch off your Bluetooth devices during take-off, taxiing, and landing, then kindly listen to them to avoid paying any fine or facing public humiliation. For example, Air Canada allows the use of Bluetooth gadgets at and beyond FL100 or 10,000 feet. Even British Airways does not allow passengers to use Bluetooth devices during take-off, taxiing, or landing.

As long as you keep your mobile data off and keep your phone on either airplane mode or airplane WiFi, the airline crew will not ask you to stop using your Bluetooth devices, in case they do request, then follow their instructions.

Also read: Bluetooth codecs: Everything you need to know

Sania Usmani

Sania Usmani

Always curious, calm, and a little crazy, you can find me daydreaming or studying. An avid reader, traveler, and graduate of Aviation Science, I love gaining new experiences in life and star gazing. You can contact her here: