Why do I have to turn off electronic devices before take off and landing?

Many times we may have asked ourselves this question, and we might know the answer, but how much is it really true? And why? How?...

I am here to answer all those questions very straight forward, no "blablabla".

1. Do I really have to turn off all my electronic devices?

No. This is a conception of the past. We needed to switch off everything for various reasons, but mainly because the devices did not come with a flight mode, which gave interference with the communications between pilot and ground towers.

2. Did it really interfere in the flights?

Yes, and no. For it to be a 100% yes there would need to be tested proof of it.
They tried recreating and testing out the possibility of interference and they did not manage to come to a concrete result. Which means we can't say a big YES or a big NO.

It has happened before that a Boeing 737 was approaching Baltimore, and the course indicator also known as the localiser was centred, and then all of a sudden it showed a full deflection. The plane was on auto pilot which broke it out of the clouds at an altitude of 2.500 feet and a mile off course.

It has also happened that the interference has shut off the auto pilot completely letting the plane go for a free fall.

3. What do they say, does it interfere or not?

They say that one person's device will not be sufficient to interfere, but a group of devices can.

4. So, it doesn't matter if I turn my on while everyone else's is off...

It does matter, because if everyone thinks like this it won't be 1 device on, it will be a whole bunch and no one knows about it and so it will interfere.

Image from: http://webrazzi.com/2014/07/09/birlesik-krallik-da-sarji-biten-telefon-ve-bilgisayarlari-ucuslara-almayacak/
5. Why do they say specifically before take off and landing?

That is the time where the plane is the most vulnerable. It is the time where the pilots have to be extremely attentive, and communications between them and the towers are absolutely important.
The tower tells the pilots where other air planes are, and what altitude and route to take to avoid any aircraft collisions.
When landing is the same, and also if it is foggy, it is the towers that guides the pilot on how to land, since the pilot cannot see the runway.

While the plane is at it's cruising altitude the auto pilot is put on and this is when the probability of things going wrong drop massively. On take off and landing, everything and more can go wrong in fractions of seconds to a really bad outcome.

6. But you said they can be on earlier?

The crucial moments are the first and the last 10.000 feet.
Companies are trying to make it more comfortable and still safe, so now they say you may have your devices on during take off and landing, as long as the devices are set to air plane mode.
During flight some companies are already allowing the normal usage of the devices, just turning them to air plane mode on take off and landing.

7. You mentioned there are many reasons to turn them off, what are they?

The first reason is the signal waves that may interfere with the aircraft functionality, the second is for safety in case of a harsh turbulence or a drop that devices don't go flying about the cabin and hitting someone to harm them.
That is why big devices like laptops should be put away in a secure place, now smaller devices like cellphones are being allowed to be held in hand, not set somewhere, if you don't want to put it away you have to hold it, so it doesn't fly about.

Have I answered it all?
Do you still have any questions on the subject?
Leave me a comment letting me know.


  1. I think they tell us to turn off our phones because it would be SO annoying to have everyone calling their friends and family in such a tight space!

  2. I always wondered about this. Thanks for some details on why.

  3. Good information here! I never really knew why we needed to turn them off but I assumed it was the interception of service and such. All I really know is that I want us to get there safe and sound so I always turn that bad boy off.

    1. Good work. In doubt always listen to what they ask you to do.

  4. I'm so afraid of flying that I keep my phone off during the whole flight. :D Also, if I'm traveling with someone I'm pretty much the worst person you can get as a company on a plane. Hate the way I'm afraid of it so much, but it's pretty awful feeling when you know that you're trapped to a tin over 10km from the ground and your life is basically in the hands of total stranger :D

    <3: Jasmin N | Little Things With Jassy

    1. The thought of being trapped in a tin in mid air is definetly not great. But to help your fear maybe you should look into understanding how the plane is designed to stay up in the air. I assure you once you understand how it works, it is less frightenning.

  5. I have always wondered about this.I use flight mode now depending on how long my flights are.

    1. I think everyone at some point has wondered this. ;)

  6. Being a nervous flier the thought of mobile phones interfereing with the auto pilot terrifies me. Why would anyone be selfish enough to leave a device on that could interfere with something that goes that high into the air.

    1. I ask myself the same, but amazingly enough human kind is a very selfish being, by nature... ;P

  7. I always keep my devices on flight mode and turn them off when being told. one device won't hurt but if everybody keeps them on it's dangerous :(

    1. I agree with you 100%, I wish everyone thought like us!


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