4 million view clip of woman's flight meltdown

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 22 February, 2009, 12:00am

It is an emotional display that has struck a chord with airline passengers everywhere: more than 4 million people worldwide have gone online to see a middle-aged woman's meltdown over missing a Cathay Pacific flight out of Hong Kong.

News of the clip on YouTube, showing the unidentified woman screaming and throwing herself to ground after arriving at the departure gate at Chek Lap Kok too late to board a San Francisco-bound flight, first appeared in the Sunday Morning Post last week.

Some 56,000 people had viewed the three-minute clip before the newspaper went to press.

However, by last night, after newspapers and TV stations around the world picked up the story, it had been watched by 4.4 million people - 400,000 more than the total number of passengers to pass through Hong Kong International Airport in January.

The staggering viewing figures clocked up in just six days have put the clip, apparently filmed with a mobile phone camera by a member of ground staff, on course to become one of the 100 most viewed clips of all time on YouTube.

The video was recorded on February 4 when the woman and two male travelling companions arrived at 5.05pm at the boarding gate for flight CX782 to San Francisco - the time of the plane's scheduled departure.

When the smartly dressed woman discovers the group's baggage has been offloaded, she first tries to barge her way past a security guard to get to the air bridge, then throws herself screaming onto the floor in front of the boarding gate.

More than 15,000 people from countries worldwide had posted comments on the website after viewing the clip, most of them condemning the woman's behaviour, but some expressing sympathy and speculating on why she reacted so hysterically.

'I'd like to see her reaction when she finds out this video made her world famous,' one viewer comments.

Another remarks: 'I feel bad for her kids who have to deal with 4 million people, and counting, laughing at their mum.'

An American YouTube user comments: 'In this country, we would've tazzed this woman and thrown her in jail in the first 20 seconds', referring to being struck with a taser stun gun.

Yet another viewer recommends her for a 'best drama queen' award at the Oscars ceremony.

However, hundreds more viewers wondered at the reason for her behaviour. 'You shouldn't laugh at her. Maybe she was on her way to visit a dying sister. Catching that flight might have been a matter of life and death to her.'

When she recovered from her outburst, the woman and her two travelling companions were put on a later flight the same day to the US.

Despite the huge viewership for the clip, which has also been shown on US TV networks, the identity of the woman remains a mystery. Believed to be from the mainland, she is, perhaps, lying low in San Francisco until the fuss dies down.