This is what I saw when my plane was taxing to the runway at CDG:

Google Maps showing current location near in an airport Airplane mode turned on with Location also turned on

Airplane mode was on and all other transmissions (except Location), including WiFi, mobile data, NFC and Bluetooth were off. Location was not manually turned on by me, after I enabled Airplane Mode. It remained turned on.

What am I missing? Is GPS now so widely accepted on-board planes that Android changed its configuration to let this kind of signal/communication to pass through Airplane mode "block"?

I believe that this three year old answer isn't a duplicate, because at that time (2016) Location was generally "included" in Airplane mode and was turned off by enabling it.

  • 3
    I'm curious, on what device and Android version did you observe this? Airplane mode did not disable GPS on Android 4.x. At some point before Android 6.x, airplane mode was changed to disable GPS. (At least on my devices. It's possible that the device manufacturer or mobile carrier made that change.) Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 19:12
  • @NoU Motorola Moto Z2 Play with Android 7.1.1! :>
    – trejder
    Commented Nov 19, 2019 at 21:14
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    My device is Android 6.0.1 and when I turn on Airplane Mode the GPS is still enabled (and even WiFi if you turn it on yourself). It's fun to follow your plane path in Google Maps :P
    – DN2048
    Commented Nov 20, 2019 at 10:35
  • 1
    I've done it all the time, even before 2016, because GPS is never turned off even in airplane mode. See GPS when flying over the ocean
    – phuclv
    Commented Nov 22, 2019 at 1:59
  • GPS is disabled in airplane mode on my Samsung Galaxy S10, Android 11.
    – Seth
    Commented Aug 16, 2021 at 20:44

1 Answer 1


GPS is a receive-only technology. There are satellites in orbit around the planet and these satellites transmit. Your device receives these signals, but does not communicate back to the satellites. Using your device with GPS is no more dangerous than using it without GPS.

Airplane mode is basically equivalent to "turn off transmitters", though you can also reenable WiFi and Bluetooth. Using GPS is completely consistent with transmitters being disabled.

Assisted GPS is a way of improving the time to first fix. Your device communicates to local non-satellite infrastructure (a cell tower) and receives information about what satellites are currently in view for the local area and orbit corrections. Satellites also communicate this information, but it is much faster to receive this from a local data connection. Without assisted GPS, your time to first fix may be ~12.5 minutes (obviously longer if you cannot receive a good signal). With assisted GPS, this can be reduced to seconds. Once you have a fix, assisted GPS is equivalent to unassisted GPS.

With airplane mode enabled, your device will not use assisted GPS because it cannot communicate with the assisted GPS infrastructure. It will use the standalone mode. This is why people may suggest to acquire a GPS fix on the ground before you start your flight; it's easier for your device to acquire a fix with a data connection and preserve a state where you get location updates than it is to cold start in-flight.

  • 1
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    – Andrew T.
    Commented Nov 23, 2019 at 1:12

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