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How and when to use Airplane Mode on iPhone

Using Airplane Mode on your iPhone isn't reserved just for flights.

Airplane Mode is more than just a way to comply with flight attendants' requests to disable your device during a flight. It can actually be used as a preventative measure while roaming, or a way to let your child safely play a game on your iPhone, as well as a means to help you save battery life.

Enable Airplane Mode

Jason Cipriani/CNET

With iOS 7, Apple introduced Control Center, putting device settings such as Airplane Mode a swipe away. From any screen on your iPhone, swipe up from the bottom to reveal Control Center and tap the airplane icon. Doing so will turn off all wireless connections -- Wi-Fi, cellular and Bluetooth -- on your iPhone. Meaning, text messages, phone calls, emails and even your Apple Watch will stop receiving notifications until Airplane Mode is turned off.

Besides the obvious scenario, there are other situations when Airplane Mode is useful.

1. Time to unplug

As we just discussed, when Airplane Mode is turned on, all connections to your iPhone are turned off. This is a great way to unplug, to spend some time with your family, or just to take a break from the beeps that seem to control our lives sometimes. With the demand of constantly being connected, it's easy to get in the habit of checking your email with every ding.

Putting your iPhone in Airplane Mode puts you back in control. You may be surprised how quickly you forget that your connection is turned off, and how peaceful your night can be. This is also a great way to silence your phone during important meetings. Don't worry, all of your messages will be waiting when you turn Airplane Mode off.

2. While traveling internationally

Traveling across borders can be an expensive affair for you and your wireless carrier; international roaming charges aren't cheap. One way to help avoid the extra roaming fees is to activate airplane mode on your iPhone and only use Wi-Fi hot spots while you travel.

You won't receive text messages or phone calls, but you will still be able to check your email, use messaging apps, and browse the Internet over a Wi-Fi-only connection.

3. While your kids play games or watch movies

If you have kids, you likely are thankful for the distraction the iPhone can provide. You also probably know that kids will start pushing and tapping on anything they see on the screen, including accidentally dialing phone numbers.

If you are going to let your kids play games or watch a movie on your iPhone, turn on Airplane Mode before you hand your iPhone over to them. This not only prevents them from calling anyone, but it also stops push alerts from interrupting their gameplay or movie.

4. Save battery

We have all been in a situation where we suddenly have a low battery and no opportunity to recharge. One way to help slow down battery drain is to turn Airplane Mode on.

When your iPhone is on, even with the screen off, it is constantly searching for and monitoring data connections. Turning those connections off through Airplane Mode will save battery, allowing you to make calls when you absolutely need to.

5. Prevent a message mishap

Ever hit the Send button in the Messages app, only to realize there's an embarrassing typo or you're sending a personal message to the wrong contact? The next time it happens, enable Airplane Mode as quickly as possible. If you catch it in time, the message will fail to deliver.

Editors' Note:This article was originally published in 2011, and has since been updated to reflect new features.