Is it possible for someone with iPhone to send text/call during international flight?

Discussion in 'iPhone' started by thermal, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. thermal macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2009
    Vancouver, Canada
    If someone has an iPhone and they're on an international flight, can they send text messages or make phone calls?

    I remember during 9/11, many texts and phone calls were made by passengers on the flights after the planes were taken hostage. So I'm curious why it seems no one made calls or sent texts during Malaysian flight 370?
  2. Small White Car macrumors G4

    Small White Car

    Aug 29, 2006
    Washington DC
  3. yg17 macrumors G5


    Aug 1, 2004
    St. Louis, MO
    1) If Wi-Fi is available on board, they could use iMessage. VoIP would likely be blocked. But Wi-Fi on long haul international flights is just starting to be a thing. Most of the domestic services rely on ground transmitters.

    2) 9/11 hijackings were over land, not water.

    3) You can't get a cell phone signal at 35,000 feet. If any victims of 9/11 made calls from their cell phone, it was because the planes were at a lower altitude. But I think most of the calls were made from the satellite phones that planes used to have on board
  4. rablat macrumors 6502a


    Oct 8, 2007
    Classified NSA intel
    If the airplane had WiFi which most do.
    iPhone to iPhone they could do iMessage and FaceTime or FaceTime audio.
    We'll I was too slow see above also
  5. thermal thread starter macrumors regular

    Aug 3, 2009
    Vancouver, Canada
    Agreed. However, once direction was changed, a significant portion of the flight was still over land.



    Many cell phone calls and texts were made during 9/11 from people's personal cellphones, which I'm assuming would have been 'regular' phones (not satellite phones). Agree with you about the height though - not sure of elevation of 9/11 flights.
  6. lordofthereef macrumors G5


    Nov 29, 2011
    Boston, MA
    I don't know the layout of the country, so this is more a question than anything... The land it flew over, is it heavily populated? Is it populated at all? It's entirely possible it's just jungle down there. And even if it is inhabited, is it an area where cell towers exist? In heavily developed nations such as the US and most of Europe it's sort of hard to imagine, but there are countries where the majority of their landmass is devoid of communications towers.
  7. kdarling macrumors P6


    Jun 9, 2007
    First university coding class = 47 years ago
    Tried looking at cell tower maps for that area, and there's almost none.

    Note: phones can only connect with towers to either side, where the relative speed is small enough... less than 150 knots IIRC... to 1) give time to connect, and 2) not fail due to the Doppler effect on frequency.

    The plane was likely doing closer to 500 knots, which along with the altitude not only makes cell comms difficult, but gives very small windows ... just seconds... to ping a tower even if there is one to ping.

    There were only a handful of cell calls made during 9/11, and apparently they were done in the last few minutes at very low altitude.

    Most calls were over the airplanes' built-in systems (AirFone?).
  8. Jimmy James macrumors 601

    Jimmy James

    Oct 26, 2008
    You win this thread.

    In other news I'm wondering if I can make calls with my iPhone after removing the battery and with no other power source?
  9. ET iPhone Home macrumors 68040

    ET iPhone Home

    Oct 5, 2011
    Orange County, California USA
    As long as they link to WIFI, then yes, you can text message. Download VIBER, and you may be able to speak to them.
  10. Mrbobb macrumors 601

    Aug 27, 2012
    Another expert on MH.

    As long as there is WIFI and sounds like me the pilot or whoever planned this disabled the transponder beacon so disabling WIFI wouldn't be a problem at all.

Share This Page