Is Texting Allowed During Flights?

SDI Productions/ Getty Images
SDI Productions/ Getty Images / SDI Productions/ Getty Images

This summer, airlines are seeing a rush of passengers hitting up their favorite vacation spots after a travel-free year due to COVID-19. While people can get through short flights by reading or talking with seat neighbors, longer flights require more entertainment. Sometimes, that means texting with your friends. But do airlines allow texting during flights?

Technically, yes. Passengers may send a text message while flying, but only if they are connected to the airplane’s Wi-Fi. They can log on at any time, but limited bandwidth might make certain sites like Facebook and your email run slower.

Almost every airline offers in-flight Wi-Fi now, but some companies—like American and United—charge a fee to use it. Budget airlines like Frontier do not offer Wi-Fi at all. Some airlines offer free text messaging through their apps, but you will need to download the app before the flight.

And don't forget to put your phone in airplane mode before the flight gets in the air. Airplane mode turns off the phone's cellular connection so it doesn't disrupt the aircraft's sensors. Thankfully, the FCC still bans people from making phone calls while in the air.  

If you can’t bear to be disconnected from the world below while you're flying, check to make sure your flight has Wi-Fi options before you even buy the plane ticket. All major airline websites indicate whether they offer Wi-Fi or allow for text messages to be sent using certain apps like Google Hangout.

Also, as NerdWallet reports, some credit card companies offer their members free in-flight Wi-Fi if you purchase the ticket with that card.

If you find yourself on a flight with no ability to send text messages or scroll the internet, you can always take that moment to start meditating.