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On a couple of recent flights with Ryanair I've noticed that they require phones to be turned off during the whole flight even if they are in the "flight mode". Pretty annoying that you can not use your phone as an MP3 player, a gaming device or ebook reader when on the plane.

I'm not sure if this is a specific Ryanair rule or a global trend?

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Can't speak for all companies, but in Russia I had no problem with that in last year. –  VMAtm Jul 12 '11 at 6:56
    
Stupid rules... It shouldn't even be necessary putting them in "flight mode" anymore nowadays... interference levels of the phones have decreased enough (and shielding levels of the equipment that can be disturbed by the interference have increased enough) to not cause any troubles anymore. And this has been the case for quite some time now. –  fretje Jul 12 '11 at 7:14
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For years there has been anecdotal evidence that electronic devices have emissions which can interfere with aircraft systems but no hard scientific evidence. The airlines all took a middle line and banned devices during take-off and landing but made them OK during the flight. I believe "flight mode" turns off the transceiver in a phone making it like any other electronic device. Now I recall in recent months an article on Slashdot about more evidence of this interference being found. So this may have led to some airlines introducing stricter rules. –  hippietrail Jul 12 '11 at 7:17
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Here is the article I was thinking of: mobile.slashdot.org/story/11/06/09/1729238/… –  hippietrail Jul 12 '11 at 7:21
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I don't think we're off topic but we can clean up this thread after it concludes. Here is a wifi specific article from Slashdot: mobile.slashdot.org/story/11/03/10/141225/… –  hippietrail Jul 12 '11 at 7:40

3 Answers 3

up vote 7 down vote accepted

Implementation of rules on whether a device should be allowed in flight mode or not is spotty. Ryanair is one that I've come across that has a blanket ban; I've also encountered the same rule on Tiger Airways (which operates in South-East Asia / Australia sector). Not surprising, perhaps, when you consider that when it was started it was partly owned by Ryanair's owner. I've also come across the same rule on one of the Thai low-cost airlines - Orient Thai or Nok Air - I forget which one.

I think it's just a case that it's quicker to check whether a device is switched off rather than checking whether it's in flight mode. Most of these low-cost airlines have short turnaround times (same plane that lands in a city flies back within 45-60 minutes), and their pre-flight check is faster if they can just zip through the aisle telling people to switch off their mobile devices. I haven't been told I can't use a device in flight mode on a full-service airline.

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Maybe they think if you sit bored in the aircraft, you'll buy something on-board; their profit margins on that are probably huge. :p –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 12 '11 at 7:07
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The electronic devices are banned during take-off/landing on all airlines (afaik). It's when airborne where you were able to use phones in flight mode. But yeah, it's definitely easier (cheaper) to just check if a person is using a phone than if it's in flight mode. On the other hand it's not that easy to distinguish a phone from say an iPod Touch (which is legal to use). –  Alan Mendelevich Jul 12 '11 at 7:16
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@Alan: You'd be surprised. On an Indian low-cost airlines flight (Spicejet, if I remember correctly), the air crew insisted that my friend keep her iPod Touch switched off even though she explained that it wasn't an iPhone. –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 12 '11 at 7:19
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If it looks like an iPhone and tweets like an iPhone, it is probably an iPhone. –  Ankur Banerjee Jul 12 '11 at 7:29
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I think Ryanair aims (and usually gets) a 25 minute turn around. (i.e. take off 25 mins after landing) –  Rory Jul 12 '11 at 15:42

It's certainly not a policy or trend that would affect most companies. On some airlines (at least Finnair, if my memory serves) the pre-flight security info now specifically mentions flight mode, and instructs you to activate it at that point, i.e. before (turning the thing off for) takeoff.

In the last year I've flown with ~9 different carriers, 3 of which low-cost, and only on one of them (not sure but probably Ryanair) they said something like "keep your phone switched off even if it has flight mode". (Well, I pretended I didn't hear or understand that part and had no problems enjoying my music later on.)

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And of course, on any Ryanair flight the ability to listen to music is pretty much essential for blocking the infuriating, idiotic "Become a millionaire with Ryanair!" type announcements. –  Jonik Sep 21 '11 at 21:43

I don't think this is going to be the case for all airlines. Air NZ recently announced people would be able to make calls from their cellphones while in flight... that won't be cheap!

http://www.stuff.co.nz/travel/3741430/Air-NZs-new-planes-allow-mobile-phones

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