Airplane Mode: What Happens When Someone Calls You?

Here’s what happens when someone calls you when you’re on airplane mode.

The caller hears your phone ringing and thinks you can answer.

If you want to know what exactly happens when someone tries to reach you when you’re on airplane mode why that is so, then you’re in the right place.

Keep reading!

Table of Contents

What Happens When Someone Calls You on Airplane Mode?

If your cell phone is set on airplane mode, you won’t be able to make phone calls or send text messages. 

When someone is trying to call you, and your phone is set to airplane mode, here is what will happen:

  • The caller will hear your smartphone ringing and may think you can answer.
  • You will not hear the phone ringing, but the caller may receive a message that you are unavailable.
  • The caller can leave a voicemail that you will see when you turn off airplane mode.
  • If the caller does not leave a voicemail, you will never know that the person was trying to reach you.

In other words, because your cell phone’s cellular data and Wi-Fi are inactive, there is no way for you to see that a call has tried to come through.

What Happens When Someone Texts You While in Airplane Mode?

The same situation goes for text messaging on either Android or iPhones. The text messages cannot be immediately delivered to the recipient. 

Also, the sender will not even receive a “Not Delivered” notification while your smartphone is in airplane mode.

But, since SMS or text messages are designed to be “stored and forwarded”, then any text messages sent to you are pending messages. 

Once you turn off airplane mode and reconnect your phone to your cellular or Wi-Fi signals, the stored text messages will be forwarded to your phone.

At that time, the sender will see a “Delivered” status because your smartphone is back online.

2 Other Cases Where You Won’t Receive Incoming Calls

You will also not receive incoming calls when your cell phone is not in airplane mode but the SIM card is not receiving the signal correctly. This can occur when you are outside of your cell phone provider’s coverage area.

In this case, the person calling you will get a message such as “The person you are trying to call is out of coverage area.” in response.

The second situation that prevents you from receiving incoming phone calls is when your smartphone is turned off. 

In this case, the person dialing your number may receive no message at all or a message similar to “The person you are trying to reach is switched off at the moment.” in response.

What Is Airplane Mode?

Airplane mode is sometimes referred to as in-flight mode in some mobile phone instructions. 

Simply put, airplane mode prevents your mobile phone from connecting to any signals that are traveling in the air. This includes Bluetooth signals, cell tower transmissions (cellular data), and wireless or Wi-Fi connectivity. 

Each of these is radio frequencies carried on certain bandwidths coming from your modem, a cell tower, or other broadband-enabled devices like your car radio.

Putting your cell phone in airplane or flight mode makes it easy to turn off all these external communications very quickly. 

Instead of turning off each function separately (Wi-Fi, cellular data, and Bluetooth), airplane mode shuts them down all at once. 

So, it is simply a convenience that replaces three steps with the push of one button.

Why Is Airplane Mode Necessary?

Your cell phone and other portable electronic devices are extremely powerful. They are designed with electronic components that allow these devices to emit both radio waves and electromagnetic interference or EMI. 

Both of these invisible forces can mess with or disrupt communications between electronic components located in the cockpit’s instrument panel or the airplane’s control system.

For this reason, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requires all passengers to turn off communications on personal electronic devices (PEDs). This includes e-readers, smartphones, computers, handheld gaming consoles, and smartwatches. This rule is a law and is typically in effect until the airplane reaches an altitude of 10,000 feet.

More About Your Smartphone’s Airplane Mode

Let’s take a look at your phone’s airplane mode:

What You Cannot Do in Airplane Mode

Since all wireless transmissions and cellular networks are disabled during airplane mode, there are certain things you can do and some things you can not do.

A note is required here: In previous years, airplane mode also disabled Bluetooth and Wi-Fi functions. Older cell phone technology may still behave in this manner. 

But today, cell phones now allow access to Wi-Fi connections and the ability to listen to audio via your Bluetooth-enabled devices while in airplane mode.

Here are the things you cannot do while in airplane mode:

  • Send or receive text messages
  • Cannot make or receive telephone calls
  • Cannot browse the internet via your cellular data

So, while on an airplane, the FAA allows you to still connect to the plane’s Wi-Fi hotspot to browse the internet or use your Bluetooth earbuds. To do so, turn on airplane mode, then also back on Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.

What Are Other Benefits of the Airplane Mode?

So, whether in the air or on the ground, there are other times when airplane mode is a useful feature. 

  • Get more work done: We all have to suffer the temptation of answering a mobile phone call while getting some work done. The solution: Put your cell phone in airplane mode and work distraction-free. Also, emailing capabilities are disabled for another level of total focus and concentration.
  • Keep small children safe: Often, we pass our cell phones to a child to keep their hands busy. Before doing so, switch on airplane mode to prevent an accidental call to your boss or an unwitting Amazon purchase. They can still play games but are limited to their access to any financial transactions that require an internet connection.
  • Get more battery life: There is a lot of background activity when cellular, wireless, and Bluetooth functions are enabled. This hidden activity can slow down some phones and eat up your battery power, especially a government cell phone. As an added benefit to airplane mode, your smartphone battery will charge a lot quicker.

So, the best way to prevent feeling guilty when you don’t want to take phone calls, emails, or text messages is to put your phone in airplane mode!

What Can You Do When Flying in Airplane Mode?

Don’t think you’re alone when you feel disconnected and cut off from the world while flying and in airplane mode. 

Having instant access to friends, family, entertainment, and information is simply a part of our modern culture. 

And, it would be less than truthful if we didn’t acknowledge that some people have an awful time coping when they’re not connected to the internet, Wi-Fi, or cellular data.

So, here are some tips on things you can do to keep your mind off the absence of your cell phone or other smart devices while traveling in an airplane:

  • Listen to your downloaded playlists
  • Take scenic photos of aerial landscapes
  • Read a book that is accessible offline
  • Use your NOTES app to make a to-do list
  • Play a game of Solitaire or another downloaded game
  • Watch a downloaded movie

This brings to mind a final suggestion for all those times when your internet service provider (ISP) is having issues, and your home or office broadband, cable, or wireless service may be down due to extreme weather or a system failure.

Always keep a downloaded music playlist, a few downloaded books or articles, and some gaming or brain-teaser apps that don’t need an internet connection.