The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) is relaxing its restrictions on mobile device use on aircraft, allowing individual airlines to determine their own policies, the South China Morning Post reports.

It remains to be seen when these new policies will come into effect – airlines’ own standards regarding passengers’ use of portable electronic devices (PEDs) will go through an approval process developed by the CAAC.

That said, the regulatory body appears to be in favour of bringing in-flight electronic device use up to modern standards. Speaking to reporters, the CAAC’s deputy directory, Zhu Tao, said “I believe that in the near future, you will see China’s airline companies allowing the use of relevant portable electronic devices”.

The change in policy is likely to notably improve passenger flight experience, enabling travellers to connect to in-flight wifi (where available) using their smartphone rather than requiring a tablet or laptop. CAAC regulations had previously forbidden smartphone use throughout the flight, even if put in flight mode, while use of devices such as laptops and tablets were permitted outside of take-off and landing.

New relaxed regulations will also be particularly good news for travellers flying on domestic and short-haul flights, many of which are operated by aircraft unequipped with personal in-flight entertainment (IFE) screens.