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  • Apr 18, 2014
  • Updated: 5:33am
NewsHong Kong
VIOLENCE

Cheers as passenger attacks air crew

Incidents of rage on flights between the city and the mainland are on the rise, as witness tells of passenger who punches stewardess

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 March, 2013, 4:50am

Violent attacks on cabin crew during flights between Hong Kong and the mainland are becoming so common they often go unreported, it has emerged.

The threat posed by unruly passengers and a mob mentality was highlighted on Thursday, after a physical and verbal attack on a flight attendant was loudly cheered and applauded by others on board.

British business executive Graham Fewkes, who was on flight HX162, said the attack on the Hong Kong Airlines stewardess happened while the plane sat for six hours on the tarmac at Sanya Airport, Hainan, waiting for flight clearance.

He said that four hours into the delay, an elderly mainland passenger's frustration boiled over.

"He went completely mental and stormed up the plane and into the business class. I heard a punch and looked up and he was attacking the stewardess," said Fewkes, who travels to Sanya regularly for work and was on the flight's business class.

"What surprised me was that passengers were applauding as the man was hitting her. It was a crescendo of noise coming down the plane," he said.

Fewkes and another Western businessman pulled the man off the stewardess and eventually the man calmed down and was allowed to return to his seat.

None of the airline staff members made any attempt to remove him from the plane.

"We were still on the tarmac, so they could have kicked him off the plane, but they didn't," said Fewkes.

The airline said it had not received a crew report on "any case involving physical assault on HX162" on Thursday.

Last August, the airline reported an average of three incidents of disruptive passengers every week.

To deal with such incidents, Hong Kong Airlines cabin crew receive compulsory training in Wing Chun, a martial art.

The airline's corporate communications department said its flight attendants have been given basic Wing Chun training since May 2011 to boost their health and strength, and to give them more confidence to deal with emergencies on planes.

Katherine Cheung, an instructor at the Wing Chun Union in Wan Chai, said recruits undergo six hours of training.

"We teach them basic self-defence movements to deal with unruly passengers.

"It basically gives them a little more confidence to deal with those passengers. I think air crew these days are facing more of these situations."

Margie Logarta, managing editor at Panacea Publishing Asia, which produces Business Traveller, said incidents of air rage on flights from the mainland were becoming more common, fuelled by delays caused by the military using the air space.

Describing the atmosphere on board as something of a "Wild West", she said the insufficient outlets for passengers to complain and voice their grievances compounded the problem.

Of Thursday's incident, Logarta said: "[The air hostess] knew she might have a lynch mob on her hands if she didn't restore order."

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wongsherman
The question is, did the wing chun come in handy?
caractacus
Airlines should give honest explanations for delays and not let passengers just sit there, but nothing excuses the barbaric mentality and behaviour of savages. The man should have been removed and prosecuted, but there again, when do the Chinese ever acknowledge fault in their own conduct?
johnfra
I find myself sympathetic to the crew, though not the airlines as they oftentimes treat their passengers as nothing more than revenue-contributing cattle. On the other hand, mainland passengers were not that long ago simply country bumpkins who now enjoy a lifestyle they never imagined and so they speak loudly (often shouting when you hear them speak on the phone as if that would actually carry their voice over to the listener) throw their weight around, abusive to shop assistants waiters and other service people, completely ignoring queues etc etc.
corygoldblatt
If this happened in ANY other country besides Mainland China, the culprit would be arrested and tried through the legal system. If this happened in the US, the old man would be tasered and tackled. I don't know if this is the right course of action but letting the general public see that this is acceptable behavior is only going to promote this aggressive behavior. An airplane is not supposed to resemble the set of a spike lee movie.
jhk
So the plane is full of Chinese people, of which one is beating the flight attendant and the rest are cheering. The (presumably) only two westerners are helping and protecting the flight attendant.
Interesting. Going to keep this in mind for next time someone starts talking about the "high moral standards" of the Chinese
mercedes2233
If the plane has to wait for 6 hours in the tarmac, passengers should at least be let out to wait in a waiting room. The air would be unbreathable within the aircraft if the engines and air-conditioning aren't switched on.
I NEVER AUTHOrised FACEBOOK LOGIN
ok mercedes....sure,...just pull over and let them out. you obviously know nothing about aviation
newgalileo
While attacking the crew is not nice at all, one can understand the frustration of passengers. Six hours waiting is crazy, who would not explode? Something has to be changed. And whatever some may say, sorry, the airspace is too crowded due to the military occupying like 80% of the air space. More efficient routes are made impossible and the corridors are hopelessly congested (e.g. Beijing Airport). Nothing to do with the planes.
captam
@"Business Traveller, said incidents of air rage on flights from the mainland were becoming more common, fuelled by delays caused by the military using the air space."
It is not the military causing this problem. It is the aviation industry itself. There are simply too many small and inefficient planes flying on the same routes and competing for the slots. Destinations inaccessible by rail should be using larger aircraft which would be filled by reducing frequencies. This saves fuel and there would be less flight delays. Passengers travelling to destinations served by high speed rail should quit flying and stick to the more dependable railways. Aviation has over expanded and like their banking counterparts, needs to take a haircut.
I NEVER AUTHOrised FACEBOOK LOGIN
ok captam,...the chinese military controls all the airspace in china. get your head examined and get your facts straight. --- small inefficient planes ? what does that mean ? there are smaller countries that have more people and more planes travelling because the government properly controls the transportation industry,..not the military.
Shadow
None of the airline staff members made any attempt to remove him from the plane.

"We were still on the tarmac, so they could have kicked him off the plane, but they didn't," said Fewkes.
>>>no one from SAR dare to do so for that side .unless if the attacking passenger from other region then there is all kinds of rules and punishments.
where SAR stands now...............
Dai Muff
Don't teach them Wing Chun. Give them tasers. And anyone who disrupts a flight should be kicked off immediately if it hasn't even left the ground yet.
norodnik
This thuggery - which has become ubiquitous in China - is a direct result of the brutal force that the Powers in China wallop to the common man. It's looking more and more like a soft version of the Khmer Rouge in China.....very pathetic, indeed.

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