Chinese travellers put lives at risk over flight delay
China's netizens are demanding that over 30 airline passengers be punished after they rushed onto an airport tarmac in protest when their flight was delayed for over 10 hours due to a thunderstorm. In the process, they endangered the lives of hundreds of travellers already onboard other planes.
Dai Bing, a West Air staff, the airline at the centre of the drama, said the passengers were scheduled to leave Kunming Changshui International Airport in the Yunnan province for Chongqing on an 11:55PM flight, but the plane was delayed due to very bad weather.
Just after midnight, however, another delayed West Air flight bound for Xishuangbanna was announced for takeoff as the weather seemed to improve. "There were two groups of travellers who demanded to leave first and they quarrelled in the airport," said Dai. "No one succeeded in boarding the plane."
Dai said the airline provided accommodation for nearly 300 travellers but some passengers insisted on staying at the airport terminal. At 8:30AM, those passengers who spent the night then broke into the airport's flight control area and sat on the taxiway in protest.
Local newspaper Kunming Daily quoted a woman named Liu saying that the drastic action was a cry for attention. "We just want to go home. We did this to get the attention of the authorities to solve our problem," she said, claiming that the airport staff had refused to answer their questions.
Guo Peisong, an airport official, told China Daily that the angry travellers simply went too far for their own sake. "Our workers tried to stop them but they pushed through the boarding gate on the ground floor," he said.
All the passengers were later placed on extra flights in the afternoon and received financial compensation for the delay.
In April, two similar incidents at Shanghai Pudong and Guangzhou Baiyun international airports—when passengers entered the taxiway to demand compensation for flight delays—prompted the Civil Aviation Administration of China to plead with Chinese travellers to stay rational when faced with problems
Industry insiders say that Chinese travellers tend to create trouble because there's no unified standard for flight delay compensation. In 2004, the aviation authority issued guidelines stipulating that airlines should compensate travellers for flights delayed over four hours but didn't give specifics.
A marketing manager for a domestic airline said that airlines had to set their own rates because the aviation authority's regulation was just too vague. "In reality, the bigger the fuss passengers create, the more compensation they get, which encourages increasingly extreme behaviour," he said.
In 2009, a Chinese woman caused a ruckus at Hong Kong International Airport when she missed her flight home. The video went viral on the Internet, prompting Hong Kong stand-up comic Dayo Wong Tze-wah to quip: "When I saw the clip, I was shocked. I thought it was the last flight to leave Earth. Earth was going to explode and everyone's been evacuated except her."
Source: China Daily
Published: 22nd August 2012