More Chinese airlines allow inflight mobile phone use, wifi

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China Eastern Airlines and other domestic airlines have begun to allow mobile phone use on their aircraft or announced plans to lift a ban.

Last week,  China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines began to allow passengers to use portable electronic devices (PED), such as smartphones and tablets, but phones still have to be switched to airplane mode.

China Southern Airlines and Xiamen Airlines announced Thursday they would allow mobile phone use on all their flights from Friday.

The permission comes after the Civil Aviation Administration of China asked that the ban be lifted earlier this week. According to the guideline, cabin crew can ask passengers to turn off any devices that interfere with the flight.

China Eastern Airlines announced its own plan Wednesday.

Inflight wifi is available on 74 of China Eastern Airlines’ aircraft, covering all long-range international routes and 166 domestic routes. Hainan Airlines has enabled inflight wifi on 17 of its aircraft.

“Before, I just slept aboard the aircraft, sometimes read magazines in front of me and then had nothing to do. But now, I can use my social network accounts,” said a passenger named Zuo, who took a flight with wifi from Shanghai Thursday.

Previously, mobile phone use on aircraft was banned over safety concerns. The ban is a common international practice, but with technological development and a higher demand from passengers, the ban has been lifted by some airlines.

Other Chinese airlines are also considering allowing mobile phone use.

A number of airlines from other countries already provide inflight wifi service, an important factors for passengers choosing flights.

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