Lonely Planet Writer

Forgetting to put your phone on airplane mode could cost you

Most travellers know that getting on a plane means putting your phone on flight mode, but many people still don’t actually know what happens if you don’t switch to airplane mode.

Don’t forget to put your phone on airplane mode. Image by asiseeit/Getty Images

However, one passenger on board a flight with the Irish airline Aer Lingus, found out the hard way that forgetting to put your phone on flight mode can end up costing you. The Irish Times reports that it was contacted by a passenger, who accidentally left his phone on when it was in the overhead compartment on a flight to the US. Weeks after arriving, he received a bill for nearly $300 from his phone provider.

The issue arises from phones connecting to to the flight’s roaming network, which means the passenger is subject to whatever charges come with that.

Aer Lingus told Lonely Planet: “If a guest’s ‘Airplane Mode’ is OFF, the mobile device may connect to the in-flight roaming network and the guest will be billed by their home operator for any usage. When using a mobile phone service you are roaming as if you were abroad. It’s the home operator that sets prices and bill customers. Reputable mobile operators send a pricing SMS when a device connects to such a network, on the ground or in the air, to ensure the user is aware of their error”.

Check your devices to make sure they don’t connect to the internet. Image by ©Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Aer Lingus says travellers are advised to put their phones into airplane mode, or they can pay and register to use in-flight Wi-Fi, but to just leave it on means it could connect to the flight’s roaming network – which means yours telephone provider may end up billing you for the cost.

Even if you aren’t taking a flight, travellers should always be aware of potential charges that come along with accidentally roaming. Earlier this year, a German family racked up a €12,500 phone bill when their son used his phone while on a cruise to Norway.

If you want more reasons to make sure your phone is flight mode, find out why it’s so important here.