Ever since cell phone became an everyday occurrence, airline personnel have been telling us to put them on airplane mode when we’re flying. For years, people thought it was because the phone’s electromagnetic output could interfere with the aircraft. Then there was the conspiracy theory that this was the airlines’ way of making you use their expensive phones on the back of the seat in front of you to make phone calls.
And still other people thought it was because the FCC told the FAA to make the rule because phones going over some cell towers in certain situations could potentially mess things up. And yet others believe it was a rule made in mercy simply because several hundred people making phone calls at the same time in a big metal can would just be sensory overload.
Personally, I’m voting for the latter one. But there are a few people out there who, for major monetary reason, I bet wish they had put their phone on airplane mode – or maybe turn data off completely.
According to a report by The Irish Times in December 2018, an American man on a transatlantic flight from Ireland to the U.S. forgot to put his cell phone on airline mode during the flight. His provider, AT&T, send him a bill for nearly $300 a few weeks later. As per AT&T, the bill was so high because of, “antennas installed on the plane that operate outside an unlimited international roaming plan.” The antennas can “automatically connect with phones that are not in flight mode and run up charges – even when the phones are not in use.”
But wait…it gets worse. Sometimes having your phone on airplane mode isn’t enough.
“7 On Your Side,” a “help consumers with their problems” segment on ABC-TV out of San Jose, California reported in August 2018 that they were contacted by a family who wound up with a T-Mobile cell phone bill for over $13,000, even though their cell phones were on airplane mode while flying over Vietnam. It turned out that some of the games one of their children was playing off line still drew from the internet. More info here:
So yeah…it’s probably a potentially smart financial move to remember to put your phone into airplane mode when you’re on an airplane. And maybe shut your data off, too. You know, just in case.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary