IN BRIEF | Using your mobile phone aboard flights with Chinese airlines is currently banned, but the Chinese government could soon relax those restrictions as inflight Internet grows ever more popular in the region.
Passengers could begin using their phone mid-flight by the end of the year or in early 2017, the Civil Aviation Administration of China told Bloomberg this week, although passengers would still be required to activate flight mode when in the air.
It’s therefore not expected that phone calls or traditional text messages could be made or sent during a flight, as is possible on airlines such as Emirates.
Instead, such a change would enable smartphone users to connect to an airline’s inflight Internet service over WiFi without reverting to a laptop or tablet to browse, as currently occurs.
Chinese airlines have been slow to adopt inflight Internet on their international flights, although China Southern is currently trialling the technology on its journeys from Sydney to Guangzhou and onwards to Beijing.
On those flights, complimentary Internet access is granted to business class and first class travellers, plus the first 10 passengers to register from economy – but that registration needs to be done before you leave home, not in the air.
Qantas doesn't offer inflight Internet on its own Sydney-Shanghai flights, although Qantas passengers aren't banned from using their smartphones for other tasks when in flight mode, including on flights to China.
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