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Starting on Thursday, passengers on China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines can use their mobile phones during flights, as the Civil Aviation Administration of China has loosened the restrictions on in-flight portable electronic devices.
According to a notice issued by the CAAC on Tuesday, airliners can now make their own rules for passenger use of electronic devices and apply for approval from the CAAC.
Shanghai-based China Eastern Airlines announced on Wednesday that its passengers will be able to use their smartphones, pads, laptops and other portable electronic devices during the flights starting on Thursday, but the phones have to be switched to airplane mode.
China Eastern has been taking the lead in promoting in-flight Wi-Fi services in recent years. The company is offering in-flight Wi-Fi service on 74 airplanes.
In-flight Wi-Fi is currently available on all China Eastern's international long-haul routes and 166 domestic routes, and the new rules may enhance passengers' surfing experience if they can use their mobile terminals.
"I have been waiting a long time for the day to come because I spend too much time flying, and it is boring," said Li Yi, who flies frequently domestically due to work.
Hainan Airlines, China's largest private air carrier, announced that it is ready to allow the use of portable electronic devices in the air starting on Thursday, Southern Metropolis Daily reported.
Mobile phones are not banned on many international airlines, but due to Chinese policy, passengers have to turn them off while flying in China.
China Eastern has already launched tests for using phones, said an insider from China Eastern who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"Spring Airlines will complete an evaluation as soon as possible, and passengers are expected to be able to use their electronic devices, including mobile phones, in the first half of this year," said Spring Airlines spokesman Zhang Wu'an.