Can I text on a plane?

The first SMS message that was ever sent read “Merry Christmas” back in 1992 by an engineer. These days, millions of people stay connected to friends and family all over the world through thousands of texts they send. Nowadays many want to stay in contact with others regardless of where they are, even if it’s in the air, but is that even possible while on a plane?

    JohnnyMrNinja - Wikimedia

Flyers are told to turn off their phones or put them on airplane mode for taxiing, takeoff and landing. Once the aircraft goes past 10,000 feet, passengers can connect to the in-flight network if it is available to them. Often though, this can cost a small fortune and may not be worth it unless you have a lot of business to take care of online.

Since October 31, 2013 passengers that are flying within the United States can use phones or tablets to connect to Gogo, the largest airline Wi-Fi provider in the United States. They offer a text and talk app that comes with a charge for the Gogo Internet Plan. You can only text through an app using Wi-Fi and are unable to send an SMS text.

There is also the FireChat App that allows users to send SMS texts without needing internet access. This is done through wireless mesh networking. It uses your phone's Wi-Fi signal or Bluetooth antennas and then sends the encrypted data through other app users phones nearby, eventually making it to your intended recipient. It is limiting though as you can only send a message to another FireChat user who is within 200 feet of you.

This app is ideal for those who have friends sitting in a different aisle on the plane or who have just arrived at the airport and are looking for a person they are meeting. One of the drawbacks though is that it can take awhile for the message to get through as it depends on the number of other FireChat users in your vicinity.

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