A passenger flying to Funchal had to pay a fine of two thousand euros for having put the phone in “flight mode” instead of turning it off

If you travel by plane, you know that during the trip you should turn off your mobile phone or put it in “flight mode”. The reason for doing so is that the device may interfere with the aircraft’s communications system.

But not completely turning off the phone may end up in fine. This is what happened to a passenger who was traveling to Funchal. According to Deco (Consumer organisation), this passenger disobeyed the indications of the crew to turn off the device and put it in “flight mode” only. The result was a fine of two thousand euros.

When he landed at Funchal, the passenger had the authorities waiting for him to identify him. Months later, the passenger was notified by the National Civil Aviation Authority (ANAC) to pay a fine of two thousand euros, on the grounds that the aircraft could interfere with the airplane’s communications system, even in “flight mode”.

The matter advanced to court and in a first phase, the Court of Competition, Regulation and Supervision was right to the passenger, who argued that “mobile phones have evolved a lot in recent years” and that the safety rules of the plane were mismatched. However, the Lisbon Court of Appeal decided that the fine should be paid. In the accord, quoted by Deco, it is read that in the case of the safety of all, the company can only change the procedures by means of instructions express and clear taking into account the construction of the aircraft.

Under the regime for the prevention and prosecution of illegal acts committed on board commercial flights, using a mobile phone or any other electronic device during flight, when prohibited, constitutes a very serious misdirection. The prohibition shall be communicated to passengers at the beginning of the flight and, where possible, at the time of purchase of the ticket. In question is a fine ranging from two to four thousand euros.

Despite this decision, most airlines have relaxed their rules since 2014. For example, TAP already authorizes the use of smartphones, tablets or laptops while travelling, as long as they are connected in “flight mode”. Already during take-off and landing, the laptop computer should be turned off and saved.

When in doubt, it is best to clarify with the crew members.