Flights, fights and Trump turbulence... 10 dramatic air mishaps that happened in China in 2017
From the elderly woman caught throwing coins into a jet engine to the angry man in a Make America Great Again hat escorted from a plane to chants of ‘lock him up’, here are some of this year’s airport nightmares
Anyone who has travelled will know that flying can be a stressful affair – which may explain why brawls and falls regularly happen at airports and on planes. While nothing on the mainland came close to the United Airlines fiasco, where a passenger was dragged off an overbooked flight, Chinese social media was buzzing with its fair share of flight mishaps throughout 2017. Here are a few prominent ones that happened this year.
1. Elderly passenger throws coins into engine for ‘luck’
A flight from Shanghai Pudong International Airport was delayed for five hours in June this year, when passengers spotted an elderly woman throwing coins at the plane engine for good luck and alerted the crew. Plane mechanics later found nine coins, one of which was in the plane engine. The captain was quoted as saying the metal, if sucked up by the engine, could have caused serious damage, including failure.
2. Chinese couple arrested over airport runway brawl that saw husband’s shirt torn off and wife pinned to ground
In April, a brawl between a husband and wife broke out on the tarmac in southwest China. The couple, who were going through divorce negotiations, had just stepped off an airport passenger bus and were about to board the plane when they began arguing. The quarrel grew more heated and eventually escalated into a fight. The man’s shirt was torn off, and the woman was pinned to the ground by the man. The captain refused them entry to the plane after the fight ended and airport security was called in.
3. Chinese flight attendant falls out of stationary plane at Zhengzhou airport
A flight attendant fell out of a stationary plane at Zhengzhou airport in Henan province in November this year. The woman, who was not identified, was preparing food on the plane when she lost her footing and fell through the open cabin door. She later underwent surgery to fix a broken bone in her chest. This was the second incident in less than a month. In October, a flight attendant fell from the rear door of a stationary aircraft in Shenzhen. She was trying to close the door as the plane was preparing to take off.
4. Security nightmare after child boards Shanghai flight with no ticket
All passengers on a Juneyao Airlines flight from Beijing to Shanghai had to disembark and go through security checks a second time in July when the cabin crew discovered a child had boarded without a ticket. The child was reportedly accompanied by three adults, who helped the minor board the flight undetected. In total, the flight was delayed for five hours.
5. Indonesian passenger plane turns back to Guangzhou after finding cabin door ‘not completely closed’
Early this year, a passenger plane on its way to Bali from Guangzhou had to turn back mid-flight after it was found that the cabin door was incompletely closed. The Sriwijaya Air plane was about three hours into the five-hour flight when the captain decided to return to Guangzhou. Passengers took to social media to express their frustration at having to return to Guangzhou and expressed suspicions about “holes” found on the plane. After a half an hour stop for tests and repair, the plane took off again and landed in Bali safely.
6. Calm, celebration ... then shock as passengers on China Eastern flight realise there was a huge hole in the engine after an emergency landing
A Shanghai-bound China Eastern Airlines jet had to make an emergency landing shortly after take-off in Sydney, Australia in June. The crew had reported damage to the engine’s cowling, or cover, and requested a runway inspection at Sydney Airport. After landing back in Sydney about 40 minutes after departure, a large hole was spotted in the engine’s cowling. Some passengers were reportedly not aware of the hole, but others were reportedly terrified and could smell burning.
7. Chinese PhD student banned from Air France flights after slapping airport check-in staff
In June, a 36-year-old PhD student from a university in Wuhan lost her temper when she was told that check-in for her flight from Wuhan to Paris had closed 14 minutes earlier. Staff advised her to alter or get a refund her tickets, but the woman refused. She then rushed to the staff working area and slapped a member of staff twice after negotiations failed. The woman, who was accompanied by her husband and child at the time, was detained for 10 days and blacklisted on Air France flights in the mainland.
8. Dog jumps out of plane cargo hold and runs loose at China airport
A golden retriever was badly injured after it got out of its cage on an aircraft, jumped out of the cargo door and ran loose at an airport in central China. Although it is not clear how it got out of the cage in the first place, it took eight staff members and more than 40 minutes to capture the dog at Wuhan airport. Vets found that it had multiple abdominal and eye injuries after it was caught. The dog’s owner said excessive force was used and internet users questioned if it was justified to treat the dog so roughly while restraining it.
9. Two Chinese men jailed after brawl in plane’s first-class cabin
Two men were each sentenced to two years in jail in August for assaulting aircrew and passengers. The altercation happened in June 2016 when the pair was found sitting in first-class seats despite having economy class tickets. They refused when asked to pay for an upgrade or move to their assigned seats. The dispute escalated and the pilot aborted take-off. The police officer who came on board was injured, as were four flight stewards and one passenger.
10. Unruly passenger in Trump hat delays flight from Shanghai to US
A United Airlines flight from Shanghai to Newark, New Jersey was delayed for several hours after an American man wearing a make America Great Again hat caused a ruckus onboard. The man in a red hat bearing Donald Trump’s campaign slogan was reported to have complained about the seating – demanding the seats next to him be kept free, The airline said he then refused to comply with a request to leave. A fellow traveller posted on Facebook that he had started shouting at staff and passengers, calling one “Hillary”, before being led off by law enforcement to chants of “lock him up”.