Should you switch to Flight Mode on planes?

This is a re-post of a story I have just read in Travel Weekly and it explains why you MUST switch your phone to ‘airplane mode’ during a flight…

A man, travelling from Ireland to the US, was recently charged almost $300 by his mobile service provider, after – you guessed it – he left his phone on for the duration of the flight.

Exactly how did this happen?

Well, according to The Irish Times, it has to do with antennas installed on the plane, used for an in-flight roaming and Wi-Fi network. The Irish Times reported the passenger was flying on an Aer Lingus flight and, weeks later, was charged by his service provider, AT&T, who told The Irish Times there was nothing they could do.

The service provider said that almost $300 in charges were racked up as a result of “antennas installed on the plane that operate outside an unlimited international roaming plan”. Which means they can “automatically connect with phones that are not in flight mode and run up charges – even when the phones are not in use”.

Aer Lingus told The Irish Times that they advise passengers to switch their phones to flight mode before take-off, as your phone can rack up charges without even being used. A spokeswoman said that the airline doesn’t make any money off these charges and also can’t be held responsible for them. Aer Lingus has Wi-Fi available on transatlantic flights, which passengers can register and pay for, but if a phone is simply left on it “may connect to the in-flight roaming network and the guest will be billed by their home operator for any usage”.

A lesson learnt the hard way! Bet he listens next time.

By Vicki Williamson

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