Your iPad's Airplane Mode
Your iPad offers settings to keep you on the good side of air-traffic communications systems. However, the settings for the iPad Wi-Fi + 3G and Wi-Fi + 4G models differ from those of the Wi-Fi–only model.
For example, the original Wi-Fi–only iPad didn’t have an Airplane mode setting that the original iPad + 3G had. Airplane mode subsequently did arrive on the first Wi-Fi–only iPad with an iOS update. And the Airplane mode setting appears on the iPad 2 and later iPads, regardless of which model you own.
Using a cellular radio on an airplane is a no-no. Wi-Fi is too, some of the time. But nothing is verboten about using an iPad on a plane to listen to music, watch videos, and peek at pictures — at least, after the craft has reached cruising altitude.
So how do you take advantage of the iPad’s built-in iPod (among other capabilities) at 30,000 feet, while temporarily turning off your wireless gateway to e-mail and Internet functions? The answer is, by turning on Airplane mode.
To do so, merely tap Airplane Mode on the Settings screen to display On (rather than Off).
That act disables each of the iPad’s wireless radios (depending on the model): Wi-Fi, cellular, and Bluetooth. While your iPad is in Airplane mode, you can’t surf the web, get a map location, send or receive e-mails, sync through iCloud, use iTunes or the App Store, or do anything else that requires an Internet connection.
If a silver lining exists here, it’s that the iPad’s long-lasting battery ought to last even longer — good news if the flight you’re on is taking you halfway around the planet.
The appearance of a tiny Airplane icon on the status bar at the upper-left corner of the screen reminds you that Airplane mode is turned on. Just remember to turn it off when you’re back on the ground.
If in-flight Wi-Fi is available on your flight, you can turn on Wi-Fi independently, leaving the rest of your iPad’s wireless radio safely disabled.