Of the many functions and features that you will find on the average smartphone, the hotspot is possibly one of the most useful. And yet, it is a function that not so many of us know all that much about.
We kind of just switch it on and just let it do its thing. Like magic (but definitely not magic), we can then connect whatever devices we wish to the hotspot and allow them to work from our data connections.
For those of us that work on the road, this sort of function is a total gamechanger – and absolutely necessary considering not all public Wi-Fi connections are reliable enough to get the job done.
However, due to the fact that most people will have never had the occasion to figure out how exactly all of this works, there are a lot of hotspot questions out there just waiting for answers.
Of these, one that we have seen a lot is ‘can I use my hotspot on a plane?’ So, to get to the bottom of this, we decide to let you know everything you need to about this. After all, it is pretty important that you don’t end up messing with the airplane’s navigation systems, right? Let’s get stuck into it.
Can You Use Hotspot On A Plane?
We all want the short answer, don’t we? Well, here it is – no. In normal flight conditions, you will not actually be able to use the hotspot feature on your phone. The reason for this is quite simple, really.
For your hotspot to work, you need to have a decent data connection on your phone. And, considering that you will most likely be moving at 500mph at 30,000 feet high or more, your phone may struggle to maintain a connection to a tower for long enough to be of any use whatsoever.
In fact, it can be even harder than all of that to get a connection in the first place. Given that the towers that will normally put out your cell signal aren’t actually all that high, and the signal isn’t directed upwards, you just won’t be able to get any signal while you are that high in the air on a commercial flight.
Of course, let’s say that you happen to be seated in a smaller plane, like a Cessna for example, there is a higher chance you will get a signal. This is because they operate at much lower altitudes.
Should I Use My Hotspot On A Plane?
Asides from the practical elements of all of this, there are also good reasons why you shouldn’t try working your hotspot in the first place. All airliners now will request that you either switch off your phone or turn it to airplane mode while the flight is active.
Airplane mode will effectively disable your phone’s ability to make use of any of its connectivity features. Of course, this will also rule out using the hotspot feature.
But there is some good news here too. These days, more and more flights will have in flight Wi-Fi services for their passengers. As of yet, it isn’t quite the standard, but we can imagine that it will only become more common as competition among airlines drives the change.
If you are lucky enough to be on one of these flights, you should have a range of, but not all, connectivity features that you are used to.
Using In-Flight Wi-Fi. Is It Practical?
There is of course drawbacks to using in-flight Wi-Fi. Again, this will be due to the fact that planes operate at a higher attitude than strong signals can reach. Even though in-flight Wi-Fi is powered by special signals that are beamed upwards, these will get weaker and weaker as you gain altitude.
Because of this, the chances are pretty high that your hotspot will effectively become redundant at some point. So, if you were intending to work online while on the go, it may not be practical.
Next up, it is also worth a mention that to use the hotspot, you would still need to be getting the required signals from your specific carrier, thus allowing you to use your data to hotspot another device. Here’s the thing about that though.
At the moment, using the cell features of your phone while you are in flight is prohibited by the FCC. As it stands, we can’t see that changing at any point in the near future.
The reason that these regulations are in place is to protect the towers, effectively stopping them from trying to rapidly lock into random phones as they zip by at crazy speeds. So, you may be able to use some in flight Wi-Fi if you are on board a flight that allows for that, but the hotspot is out of reach for now.
Is There Any Way of Using Wi-Fi On A Plane?
As we brushed over earlier on, there are a few select flights out there that will allow passengers to connect to a Wi-Fi source on board. Asides from this, another popular way of getting online while in flight is to use one of the hubs that can now be purchased for this purpose.
Both of the above are totally safe and legal ways of ensuring you at least have some access to the internet as you fly.