In the near future, passengers will once again be free to use their smartphones on domestic flights without fear of being fined. The dark days of terror are almost over!
Back in August 2016, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) proposed handing out a hefty fine of up to 50,000 RMB ($7,500) for 14 types of illegal behavior on planes that “endanger public safety.” While most of these rules were fairly straightforward (No beating flight crew. No opening the emergency exit.), also included was a total prohibition on the use of phones or electronic devices on flights — though, for some reason, this did not extend to laptops and tablets.
While many scoffed at the thought of airlines actually enforcing this rule on smartphone-obsessed Chinese passengers, from January 5th to February 6th, Beijing police reportedly detained three passengers for allegedly using mobile phones mid-flight after being explicitly warned not to by flight crew. So, there apparently was at least some enforcement.
The rule was widely despised by Chinese passengers and netizens who pointed out that on the vast majority of international flights, passengers were free to use their mobile phones as long as they were switched to flight mode. However, the CAAC apparently was apparently not convinced that flight mode blocks out all “potentially harmful signals.”
By the way, while the general theory is that a phone’s mobile signals could interfere with a plane’s sensitive electronic instruments, there isn’t actually any direct evidence for this claim — though it’s probably better to be safe than sorry in this case.
Anyway, earlier this week, Zhu Tao, deputy director of the CAAC’s flight standards department announced that the administration was planning to lift its ban on portable electronic devices and allow airlines to make their own rules on the subject starting next month.
However, passengers on domestic Chinese flights will not be immediately free to use their phones on October 1st. First, each airline must complete an evaluation, submit an application and then receive approval from the CAAC before travelers will once again be free to use the onboard wi-fi and film mid-flight brawls.
Follow Shanghaiist on WeChat