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Using Your Blackberry on an Airplane: Simple Guidelines for Safe Flying

written by: LauraMS•edited by: Simon Hill•updated: 7/5/2011

While rules may vary on whether or not you can use your BlackBerry during a flight, this article will tell you how to set your phone in the proper, safest mode if use is allowed.

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    Why Would Anyone Use a Blackberry During a Flight?

    Being that the Blackberry mobile platform offers so much more than the average cell phone does, a lot of customers are used to cozying up with their Blackberry to keep them company when traveling on long airplane flights. The Blackberry is a convenient instrument used to watch movies, listen to music, read ebooks, review calendar events and other personal activities while flying high above the ground.

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    Using Your BB During a Flight Can Be Controversial

    However, Blackberry users should be aware that using their device in such a way during a flight could cause controversy. We’ve seen such in recent years with news stories of flight attendants demanding that passengers turn their phones off during a flight and passengers insisting on being able to use their devices on the airplane when using non-voice or non-data applications. Some of these conflicts have resulted in calls to law enforcement (such the story of a man only known only as “Casey” who was reportedly detained at an airport in Hawaii for using his iPhone in airplane mode on an ATA flight).

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    Why The Controversy?

    Many Blackberry users understand their phones can be used during a flight as long as the airplane has ascended more than 10,000 feet in the air and provided that the phone is set to a special airplane mode. However, after I personally made several calls to the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), I couldn’t determine whether this is actually the case or not. FAA and FCC (Federal Communications Commission) reports online don’t seem to be clear about using phones in airplane mode either. After repeated attempts at gaining clarity directly from the FAA, it’s not surprising that consumers, flight attendants and even law enforcement officials aren’t sure as to whether or not certain Blackberry applications can be used during a flight even when no voice or data signals are being transmitted.

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    Setting Your Blackberry To An Airplane Mode

    Nevertheless, on a Blackberry, this can be even more confusing because no specific setting titled airplane mode exists. Even without the exact label of Airplane Mode, please note that the option still does exist on your device. By simply going to the main screen on your Blackberry and selecting the “Manage Connections” icon (looks like an antennae), you can then click on the heading that says “Turn All Connections Off” and your phone will be set for use in airplane mode. What this setting actually does is it disables all voice and data access that could possibly interfere with the airplane’s navigational and communication devices. In this mode, you can still watch any movies you have downloaded on your phone and you can access information stored on your phone or your memory card. You cannot send or receive new messages, nor can you use the Internet or your actual phone for voice calls while in this mode, however. After you have de-boarded the airplane, simply remember to restore your connections and your Blackberry will be in full data and voice mode once again.

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    Final Word On Using Blackberry In-Flight

    Having a Blackberry is useful in a lot of different situations. As long as you obey the rules of the environment you’re in, you’ll find that your Blackberry can also get you through some pretty long waits. Remember, though, that the rules for using your phone in airplane mode on a flight aren’t entirely clear and some airline personnel have been known to get a little anxious when they see devices like the Blackberry used during a flight. If you show the attendant that your Blackberry data and voice connections are turned off, this should be enough to assure them of safe use. However, if it’s not enough and the attendant still insists that you put it away, it’s always a good idea to do so in order to avoid any possible confrontations with airline security or the police.