Several Chinese airlines have begun allowing passengers to use mobile phones in flight mode from Thursday, lifting a ban on their use during flights.
Other portable electronic devices could be used in flight mode, while on planes with Wi-fi, passengers could access the internet using tablets and laptops but not phones.
China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines took the lead in lifting the ban from today after China’s civil aviation authority in September said it would leave it up to carriers to make the call on whether to allow phones to be used on flights, Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported. The change also applies to Hainan subsidiary Lucky Air.
Spring Airlines, the country’s largest budget carrier, followed suit today, announcing that it will allow mobile phones to be used in flight mode from next month. China’s restrictions on the use of portable electronic devices on flights came with tough penalties – any violation of cabin rules is deemed to be damaging the public order and can result in up to 10 days’ detention.
Last year, Beijing police detained three passengers in a month for using their mobile phones during flights, according to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC). One of them was detained for five days for listening to music on his phone during take-off and landing, the Post said.
The lifting of the ban was welcomed, with passengers sharing selfies taken on their phones during flights with the two airlines. “Finally I’ve flown around the world and it’s only Chinese airlines that ban the use of mobile phones in flight mode,” one user wrote on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform. “We’ve lagged behind other countries for so many years and now this has become something to praise,” another person wrote on Weibo.