Three Passengers Detained in Beijing for Using Phones During Flight

Feb 13, 2017

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Last fall, TPG Assistant Editor Nick Ellis flew from Seattle (SEA) to Shenzhen (SZX) on Xiamen Air. He learned of one of China’s quirkier airline policies the hard way after pulling out his phone to listen to music and then immediately being asked to shut the device off, even though the phone was in airplane mode.

It seems that Nick was extremely lucky for only getting scolded, as three travelers were detained by Beijing police between January 5 and February 6 of this year for using their cell phones during a flight, with two of the passengers held for five days. Chinese carriers are known for their strict cell phone ban, which can come as a surprise to many, as other airlines have continued to relax rules surrounding the use of mobile devices. The Federal Aviation Administration (with few exceptions) allows passengers to use cell phones during all phases of the flight, as long as it’s set to airplane mode.

While cell phones must be completely shut off during a flight on a Mainland Chinese carrier, iPads, tablets and laptops are allowed. We’d suggest downloading your favorite movies and music onto your tablet so you’re not left without tunes — or worse, forced to extend your trip to China by detention.

H/T: The Washington Post

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