Earlier this year one passenger was jailed for listening to music on their phone during takeoff and landing.
Another passenger tried to make calls during their flight.
It’s not clear what the third passenger was doing other than refusing to turn off their phone when asked by a flight attendant.
All three incidents occurred on flights bound for Beijing between January 5 and February 6. The longest flight, from Nanchang, was 774 miles.
Two of the passengers were held for five days, and one was held for three days.
Chinese civil aviation regulations forbid the use of mobile phones inflight – even in airplane mode – but they do not forbid the use of tablets.
I know this but out of habit had my phone out and was scolded for it by a flight attendant on China Eastern last year. I was perplexed for a moment, trying to explain that the phone was in airplane mode. She didn’t understand, and then I remembered. I guess I got lucky, of course I was flying to Colombo (on a flight that continued to Kunming, but I was getting off before reaching China).
Last year Air China suspended a pilot who broadcasted his duties on social media because he violated the ban on inflight cell phone use.
These are rules which constantly seem on the verge of being repealed, but haven’t been to date.
There have been hints that rules would be changed soon. In 2014, Zhou Hong, an aviation communication expert, told China Daily that the CAAC had been “exploring the possibility of air travelers using electronic devices at a height of more than 3,000 meters,” or roughly 9,842 feet. Hong suggested that the result of the study would come in 2016.
Last year, as that deadline came and went, there was another report that China would allow mobile phone usage on flights. In an interview with Bloomberg, Zhu Tao, director of the air transportation division at CAAC, told Bloomberg News that he expected legislation to be amended either by the end of the year or by early 2017.