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Are You Allowed to Use an iPad on a Plane?

Are You Allowed to Use an iPad on a Plane?

Can you use an iPad on a plane? – Many of us ponder this question while packing our bags and tech gear for a journey. As a part of the modern, connected world, our iPads have become indispensable travel companions, offering everything from entertainment to work solutions. But navigating the rules of air travel with these devices can sometimes feel daunting.

In this post, I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of using your iPad on a plane, ensuring you’re well-informed and prepared for your next flight. 

Can You Use iPad on a Plane?

Let’s answer, Can you use an iPad on a plane? You can! Using your iPad is generally permitted when flying, but there are a few key points to remember. 

Firstly, always switch to airplane mode before takeoff. This disconnects your device from cellular networks, following the regulations set by aviation organizations like the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration. During takeoff and landing, the flight crew may ask you to stow larger devices like an iPad for safety. 

Once cruising, feel free to use your iPad to catch up on a popular game, read, or watch in-flight entertainment. Remember, keeping it in hand luggage is a good idea for easy access.

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Understanding Airline Rules for iPads

Switching to airplane mode is one of the key rules for using an iPad or any mobile device. But why is this necessary? Airplane mode disables the iPad’s cellular connection, preventing interference with the aircraft’s communication systems. 

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other aviation authorities worldwide mandate this to ensure flight safety. This rule applies to iPads all mobile phones, and small electronic devices.

How to Activate Airplane Mode

Activating airplane mode on your iPad is simple:

  1. Open the ‘Settings’ app.
  2. Find the ‘Airplane Mode’ option and toggle it on.

This action turns off cellular service, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, though you can reactivate Wi-Fi and Bluetooth manually if you want to use your Airpods.

Understanding Connectivity Limitations

With airplane mode on, your iPad loses its cellular connection, meaning you can’t make calls or use a cellular data plan. However, you can still access previously downloaded content or use applications that don’t require an internet connection. Check if your flight offers a guest network or in-flight Wi-Fi network for internet access.

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Why Cellular Devices Matter

Cell phones and other cellular devices like the iPad Pro can connect to cell towers on the ground. At high altitudes, this could lead to rapid handoffs between towers, potentially affecting the cellular network on the ground. Switching to airplane mode eliminates this risk, creating a safer flying environment for everyone.

Safe Transportation of Lithium Batteries and Electronics

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) sets clear standards for carrying portable electronic devices like Apple iPads, Android devices, and laptops. These regulations are in place for good reason, to ensure the safety of all passengers during all phases of flight. 

Most airlines allow you to carry devices with lithium metal or lithium-ion batteries in carry-on luggage. This includes your mobile devices, small electronics, and even larger items like the Magic Keyboard for your iPad. However, there’s a crucial point to note – the maximum voltage for these batteries should be within 50-75 volts.

When packing, it’s the best way to ensure your devices and their spare lithium batteries are easily accessible. This aids in the screening process at the airport. TSA officers may ask to inspect your electronics separately, so having them readily available in your carry-on bag can expedite this process. You can check the TSA website for any updates or specific rules related to electronic devices.

Remember, while cabin crew and air traffic controllers work tirelessly to ensure your flight’s safety, managing your electronics responsibly is also a part of flight safety.

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Additional Facts

  • Electronic Flight Bag (EFB) Usage: Active general aviation pilots and flight instructors often use iPads as their EFBs. EFBs are used by flight crews for various tasks while flying. Of course, they must also set it on airplane mode during flights. 
  • Battery Life: Preserving your iPad’s battery life on long flights is crucial. Using airplane mode conserves battery power significantly.
  • Airport Security: Remember that tablets and larger devices like laptops should be placed in a separate bin when passing through TSA checkpoints. Keeping your iPad in a protective case or tablet sleeve makes it easier to manage during screening.
  • Other Electronic Items: Be mindful of carrying spare lithium or dry cell batteries in your carry-on baggage, as checked baggage restrictions apply to these items.

By understanding these rules and the reasons behind them, travelers can use their iPads responsibly and in compliance with airline regulations, ensuring a smooth experience for themselves and their fellow passengers.

Tips for Seamless iPad Use on Flights

When it comes to using your iPad on a plane, knowing the best ways to utilize this portable electronic device can significantly enhance your travel experience. Let’s delve into some practical tips for seamless iPad use during flights.

Is it safe to use your ipad on a plane?

Optimal Use During Different Flight Phases

During Takeoff and Landing: Ensure your iPad, whether a standard model or a large iPad Pro, is securely stored in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. This complies with the flight attendant’s safety instructions and FAA regulations. Devices with a bigger screen are officially supposed to be stowed, but in our experience they have never asked our kids to put away their iPads during any part of the flight.

In-Flight Usage: Once the flight crew gives the green light provided by the flight deck, you can use your iPad. This is a good time to catch up on work, enjoy entertainment, or read.

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Enhancing Connectivity and Power

Wi-Fi Connections: If your flight offers Wi-Fi, you can activate it from the control center of your iPad after switching to airplane mode. This is particularly useful for accessing the internet or cloud-based applications.

Power Management: A long flight can drain your device’s battery if there are no charging port in your seat. A power bank or a portable charger is a good choice to keep your iPad charged. Ensure your power bank adheres to the transportation security administration’s guidelines, especially regarding lithium-ion batteries’ maximum voltage.

Staying Organized and Secure

At the Security Checkpoint: If you have TSA pre-check you can keep tablets in your carry-on luggage. However, everyone else needs to take their tablets out of the bag. Our tablets all have cases on them because accidents happen and I want to ensure our portable personal electronic devices don’t break mid-trip.

Sensitive Information: With possible exposure to fellow passengers or a TSA officer, it’s essential to safeguard sensitive information on your device. Use secure folders, passwords, or encryption tools available in the iOS app store.

What happens if you use your ipad without airplane mode?

Best Option for iPad Case

Additional Tips

GPS and Location Services: Utilize internal GPS and location services, great for tracking down a misplaced or stolen device.

Flight-Specific Apps: Download flight-related apps from the App Store before your journey. These can provide valuable information and entertainment specific to air travel.

Tech Essentials for the Business Traveler

Packing the right accessories and subscribing to useful services can greatly enhance your experience when traveling with an Apple iPad. Not only do they provide convenience and entertainment, but they also ensure that your device is ready for whatever your journey brings. With these in your travel toolkit, you can enjoy a seamless, productive, and enjoyable trip.

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Must-Have Accessories for Your iPad

  • Portable Charger/Power Bank: A lifesaver on long flights for anyone with mobile devices or portable electronic devices. Choose one within the FAA’s approved voltage range to keep your iPad powered throughout your journey.
  • Apple Pencil: Apple Pencils are ideal for creatives or business professionals using iPads for drawing or note-taking.
  • Magic Keyboard or a Durable Case with a Keyboard: Enhances typing comfort and efficiency, especially for those using their iPad as a laptop computer substitute.
  • External Hard Drives or SSD: For extra storage, it is especially useful for travelers who work with large files or need to back up valuable items. 
  • Noise-Canceling Headphones: A perfect companion for enjoying in-flight entertainment or focusing on work without distractions. Since eliminating the headphone jack, iPads now can’t have wired headphones without taking up the charging port. Sure, you can buy a splitting cord to allow for both a special kind of headphones and charging, but instead you should just get yourself a pair of AirPods.

Read Also: Step-by-Step Guide to Using AirPods on a Plane

Subscription Services for Enhanced iPad Experience

  • VPN Services: A Virtual Private Network is crucial for securing your internet connection, especially when using public Wi-Fi networks in airports or on flights. With a low monthly subscription, It encrypts your online activity, keeping your personal and sensitive information safe.
  • Streaming and Entertainment Subscriptions: Services like Netflix, Hulu, or Spotify allow you to download content to your iPad, providing entertainment even when you don’t have an internet connection.
  • Cloud Storage Services: Subscription to services like iCloud or Dropbox is essential for accessing documents and files across devices, especially if you’re managing work on the go.
  • Travel-Focused Apps: Consider subscriptions to travel apps that offer offline maps, language translation, or guides, which can be invaluable resources during your travels.
are ipads and other electronics allowed on a plane?

As we’ve explored, the answer to Can you use an iPad on a plane? is a resounding yes, but with certain considerations and guidelines. Being informed is key, whether it’s understanding the necessity of airplane mode, packing the right accessories, or navigating the TSA screening process.

The good news for travelers is that with a little preparation and knowledge, your iPad can be your perfect travel companion, making those long flights more enjoyable and productive.

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FAQ: Are You Allowed to Use an iPad on a Plane?


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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