Airplane Mode explained: How to use Airplane Mode to avoid roaming


By Heather

Travel & Tech Writer


Airplane Mode to avoid roaming: have you ever wondered how to use it?

Many people have! Most of us will bring our phones with us on vacation, even if we haven’t yet figured out how to safely use them while away. We’d rather have them with us than left behind at home. 

Using Airplane Mode to avoid roaming is a great call. So, in honour of avoiding surprise roaming fees, here’s a deep dive on how to do just that. 

1. Using Airplane Mode to avoid roaming during international travel: why it works

Using Airplane Mode for international travel means you’re bringing your phone with you, and that you’ve considered using Airplane Mode to avoid roaming.

With your phone on Airplane Mode, you have it with you in case you need to use it, but have it set in Airplane Mode so your receiving functions are turned off.

2. What does Airplane Mode do?

Airplane Mode turns off your device’s ability to connect to cellular networks (meaning it can no longer send or receive calls or texts, or use data).

As it is no longer accessing local cellular networks, it will not be charged roaming fees (caused by your device connecting to networks outside its home region).

3. When I use Airplane Mode to avoid roaming, does it turn off my location?

If your phone is set to Airplane Mode, anyone with access to your GPS can still see your location (for example, third parties you’ve allowed to access your location). 

To turn this off completely, you’ll need to disable the GPS feature on your device.

4. Does Bluetooth work in Airplane Mode?

Bluetooth does not require Wi-Fi or data to function! Once your device is set to Airplane Mode, go back into your settings to toggle Bluetooth on (Airplane Mode defaults this setting to off). This will allow you to use it for your headphones or even track your AirTags.

5. Does Wi-Fi work in Airplane Mode?

Wi-Fi does work in Airplane Mode! A lot of people using Airplane Mode to avoid roaming will worry that since using data causes roaming charges, Wi-Fi must too, but this is not the case. And, as always, stay informed on staying safe on public Wi-Fi networks.

Since Airplane Mode turns off cellular data, Wi-Fi will not trigger roaming (because it does NOT use cellular towers). You’ll need to manually turn it on, just like Bluetooth, as Airplane Mode defaults this setting to off. 

6. Airplane Mode to avoid roaming: does it also save battery life? 

In addition to using Airplane Mode to avoid roaming, the setting also saves battery power. When Airplane Mode is enabled and cellular functions are turned off, they are no longer using your battery power. 

Here’s one small caveat: both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth will continue using battery power as long as they’re on (even when not actively in use, as they’re on in the background). Switch these off to save more battery power.

7. What happens when someone calls you on Airplane Mode? 

Because Airplane Mode disables your phone’s ability to connect to cellular networks, calls made to your phone will go straight to voicemail when Airplane Mode is on. 

BUT, apps like Hushed enable calling and texting via the internet, meaning a Wi-Fi connection (or data source) will allow you to make and receive calls and messages via that app. 

AND, when you power that app with eSIM data from aloSIM, you won’t have to wait for Wi-Fi to send or receive calls and messages. 

8. Will my alarm go off in Airplane Mode? (Does alarm work on Airplane Mode?)

Absolutely! Because your alarm doesn’t use signal transmitting functions, it will not be impacted by Airplane Mode.

9. Can you play games on Airplane Mode?

There are SO MANY games you can play in Airplane Mode to avoid roaming! If you’re old school, crossword games, solitaire and many other simple games are fully functional in Airplane Mode. 

Most games also will feature an offline mode, where the game is enabled, but your score and stats may not update while offline. 

10. Best Airplane Mode games?

Are you a gamer looking for your next offline game? Here are some games that are awesome to play in Airplane Mode:

  • Minecraft
  • Chess
  • Puzzle games: Sudoku, Crossword, etc
  • Asphalt 8: Airborne
  • Clash of Clans
  • Fifa Soccer
  • Subway Surfer
Use Airplane Mode to avoid roaming charges, especially while you’re moving between destinations. And don’t forget to use prepaid aloSIM data packages for instant data (without roaming charges) once you arrive.