Innovation

Business travel boon: Chinese airlines lift in-flight smartphone ban

New options for connectivity could make international business travel more productive for those heading to China.

Building a slide deck, pitch, or presentation? Here are the big takeaways:
  • Chinese airlines now allow smartphones to be turned on in airplane mode during flights after Chinese air regulations were loosened.
  • Many of the airlines are also beginning to offer in-flight Wi-Fi, making it easier for business travelers or professionals based in China to connect and work during flights.

Major Chinese airlines now allow travelers to use their smartphone during flight, as reported by our sister site ZDNet. The move came after the Civil Administration of China (CAAC) loosened regulations on the devices.

Smartphones and tablets must be in airplane mode, but the new rule is an upgrade from requiring phones to be completely shut off. Business travelers and China-based professionals will be able to work offline, potentially getting more work done and having a more comfortable flight with access to documents, books, and music on their devices.

SEE: Travel and business expense policy (Tech Pro Research)

Along with the smartphone change, more Chinese airlines are beginning to offer in-flight Wi-Fi. Around 112 airplanes have become equipped with Wi-Fi so far, according to a Chinese report. On equipped planes, business passengers will be able to connect and work while traveling.

In-flight Wi-Fi is still young in China, so it is difficult to see how widespread the service will become, how quickly it will be implemented, and how much it will cost travelers. So far, China Southern Airlines offers the service on 15 planes for free to all travelers. Economy passengers need to apply 24 hours in advance of the flight to use it, but first class and business do not, ZDNet said.

While the new regulations and offerings can make things easier for China-bound business travelers, business travel still has its tech-based failings. Recently, several top US airlines banned smart luggage with non-removable lithium ion batteries, with a few smart options left for business travelers. Some international flights saw laptop bans in 2017, before the US lifted the ban in July.

Emerging technologies, including Hyperloop and 5G connectivity, may heavily impact business travel by late 2018 or early 2019 by expediting the journey itself and keeping travelers even more connected. Updates to existing devices, including better batteries and ultralight, convertible devices, may make travel easier now.

Also see

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Image: iStockphoto/chuyu

About Olivia Krauth

Olivia Krauth is a Multiplatform Reporter at TechRepublic.

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