• Thu
  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 10:35am
NewsHong Kong
WEATHER

Fury as Hong Kong-bound passengers forced to spend the night on plane grounded in Shenzhen

PUBLISHED : Monday, 31 March, 2014, 4:26pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2014, 6:25pm
 

Furious passengers were forced to spend the night on a grounded plane with little food and water after it was diverted from Hong Kong to Shenzhen due to Sunday's violent storms.

The Dragonair flight from Shanghai, with around 250 passengers and 15 crew on board, was due to land in Hong Kong just after 9.30pm on Sunday. Bad weather forced pilots to divert the plane to nearby Shenzhen.

But on the tarmac, the passengers were barred from leaving as the airport's terminals were already full of stranded passengers.

Angry passengers yelled at crew, who had to spend the night guarding the plane's doors to stop them trying to break out.

At around 7am the the passengers were allowed into Bao'an International Airport, but told to make their own way to Hong Kong.

"We were told to … find our own way to Hong Kong without any travel allowance," one traveller said. Organisers of two large tour groups faced a logistical nightmare as they tried to find transport back to Hong Kong.

It was worse for the crew on board. As late as 2pm yesterday, 15 crew members remained in the plane.

"They have only one 1.5 litre bottle of water to share among them," said a crew member's friend. "They are being told they cannot leave the plane unattended and have to wait for replacement pilots."

They arrived back in Hong Kong only at 8.30pm last night.

A Dragonair spokeswoman said the company "sincerely apologises for the inconvenience caused to our customers".

She said local immigration and customs requirements did not allow passengers off the plane and the delay was extended by technical problems with the aircraft.

Meanwhile, other travellers to Hong Kong who spent Sunday night waiting in airports also expressed disappointment with airline management.

When Cathay Pacific flight CX715 from Singapore to Hong Kong was delayed for eight hours overnight, passenger Andy Przybysz said he received only a snack voucher worth HK$92 and had to sleep on the floor.

"People should be offered alternative flights and accommodation," he said.

 

Share

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
52

This article is now closed to comments

impala
This is completely ridiculous. Why on earth did the crew not rebel themselves?

Immigration? The plane came from Shanghai. What immigration? Since when does one need to pass through immigration when entering Shenzhen coming from Shanghai?

No gates available? Fine. But surely there must have been a safe corner of the tarmac where you can park the plane, get the people off it and escort them to the terminal building? Then let them find buses, taxis or whatever other means to go to Hong Kong if you are too greedy/incompetent to arrange this for them. I mean, improvise.

I just cannot understand what the person in charge of this might have been thinking. What kind of mindset must you have to think it is ok to lock 250 people up in a plane for an extra 9 hours of what was supposed to be a 3-hour flight? How do you defend that decision?
unicronix
Methinks you've missed the point.
Dragon & Cathay charge more, so you shouldn't get less. I'd expect this kind of treatment on China Eastern.
Also being allowed to leave the plane and paying your way back to HK is total BS.
Keeping people 'locked up' for 9 hours on a plane only to be told they have to finance their own return home would bring a lawsuit in the USA.
Diverting a plane is understandable, mistreating your revenue stream isn't
r6b
"Keeping people 'locked up' for 9 hours on a plane only to be told they have to finance their own return home would bring a lawsuit in the USA'
This is scandalous behaviour on the part of Dragonair.
They should be hauled before a legislative committee and at the very least
publically humiliated for abandoning their passengers in such an arrogant and lazy manner.
kkpualam
Sounds like it's the fault of China's immigration and customs, as its their requirements that did not allow passengers off the plane, plus mismanagement at the Bao'an International Airport.
All those passengers and crew should be demanding an explanation, demanding the truth, demanding to be treated with dignity, demanding an apology, and, let's not forget ... demand compensation. After all, isn't that what the Chinese do?
blue
"After all, this is technically, not a domestic flight."

Gotta love HK. It's a foreign destination when it's convenient for China, and it's totally domestic and a "part of China which is a unitary state!" when it's convenient for China.
allan94
cruel and unusual punishment
ninacheung
Person like you should not travel in an enclosed area like an airplane.
johnyuan
This is another case of incongruent state between using high technology with low intelligence using it.
.
The unfit and lazy management is putting passengers potentially in danger -- what if a passenger runs out of medication or the 9-hour seclusion brings on a heart attack?
.
Head(s) should be rolled, and those passengers should be apologized and compensated. The passengers should take legal action if Dragonair takes no follow up action.
captam
I have told you all before, stop flying to Mainland Chinese destinations when you can take the high speed rail and get there in much more comfort and usually with no delay at all.
Air travel within most of China is ridiculous.
nicolas
mismanagement of mainland airport and immigration is to blame...they forbid the passengers to alight the airplane...i think the passenger should demand an apology from the mainland authorities instead of complaining to the flight crews...SHAME ON YOU COMMUNIST GOVERNMENT
dienw
"stroked the fieriest with water from the harbor rose up 5 feet": what does this mean, john?
sipsip1238
It may be very blunt to be saying this, but people need to understand that you are not entitled to more when you pay for a ticket on a plane compared to a bus. Essentially, they are both a form of public transport and airlines needs to also comply with airport rules and restrictions.
The way that some HongKongers act all entitled just because they pay several thousand for a ticket is just absurd.
The plane didn't let people off most likely because the airport didn't allow it.
The air con failed, it happens, just like many annoying things.
They were treated poorly and had to sleep in a cramped seat, try being unemployed and homeless and you'd be grateful you were on a plane.
People seem to fail to see how previledged we have become and how spoilt we are when things don't go as we intended.
I am not passing things off as "sht happens", unfortunate things do happen and if it happened to me, I'd be annoyed too, but there is a difference between being annoyed and understanding that there are things you must deal with in life.
charlie212
great comment you self entitled pr**k.
dragon air doesn't control the weather - humans do the best job we can given the circumstances.
do you actually think the crew wanted to be in that situation or do you think they would have rather been at home in hkg? - they wanted to be off that airplane more than anyone else.
jason62ali
They should be grateful they are safe and sound. Imagine the bellyaching from their relatives if the plane had been involved in a serious accident during the bad weather period.
daily
Sht happens and this is one of those times...............feel sorry for those who had to cramp all night inside the plane though.............
chanaa
**** happens. stop whinning.
planes disappear. Fatal mudslides.
stuck in a plane for 9 hours ? get the violins out.
Stephan
naggers....typically Chinese...complain about everything....I am sure they will demand for COMPENSATION!
Hum-Balang
If you turn back the clock 20 years and this happened- you wont get this much grievance in fact you probably never read about it in SCMP.
It could be about a number of issues all perfectly "justifiable" by China [e.g.>16 died in Guangdong due to the same storm], and this won't even be something IATA can formally complain on.
It's about the level of services that our KA passengers got used to in HK and expect the same services can be provided at Shenzhen Baoan. Everyone was locked in including the pilots and the crew, remember?
Crisis procedure in situation like this can and should be improved, and the Cold-war era air-space control protocols must be lifted if China truly wants to be progressive, and stake its claim on self-correction.
matuag
Why is that when the MTR has a breakdown for a couple of hours the government demands answers and threatens fines (even though the MTR does its best to provide free shuttle buses to other stations etc) and when Cathay or Dragon Air have issues like this and pretty much shrug their shoulders no one says a word?
johnyuan
I am one of the survivor of Wanda stroked Hong Kong in 1962. I was taking part in a Boy Scout District prequalification camping competition. We were camping out near Tolo Harbor where Wanda stroked the fieriest with water from the harbor rose up 5 feet and wind blowing over 100 miles per hour.. All in all over 400 people perished in Hong Kong.
.
With the quick wit by the District leadership, all the participants went uphill and took asylum in a church and all survived. I am sure there is no rules book how to react to the unforeseeable. But the quick wit is very much base on common sense.
.
The management of the Dragonair in 'locking up' passengers for 9 hours is so lack of even common sense. Heads should roll. One can’t teach common sense really.
meoii
Yuck...just imagine all the smells, people farting, body odour and foul smelling breath. But it's just another day and everyone will live...just log it into the great stories to tell.
56
I would have totally freaked.
pompeychimes
Sounds like a bit of fiction made up by the passengers. I doubt Dragonair would treat any passenger in this manner.
jason62ali
Exactly.
johnyuan
To dienw,
Do your best if there is trouble understanding it. Just don't waste your time in following me for no good intention.
bagelbagel
Has anyone considered following:
1. The paxs have all gone thru PRC immigration at Shanghai for HK.
2. They hv all been cleared to leave mainland China.
3. They cannot enter Shenzhen unless PRC immigration stamped them in and custom inspection.
4. When the plane landed at Shenzhen at night, PRC immigration and custom have closed.
5. Therefore without immigration/custom approval, these paxs could not deplane.
6. Next morning, when immigration counters open, and custom returned to work, the paxs were allowed to leave the plane and to legally enter Shenzhen.
After all, this is technically, not a domestic flight.
Perhaps the blame is not entirely Dragon Air.
Have anyone been stuck at PRC immigration/customs because it was their lunch hour???
ssslmcs01
I understand what you are saying but the issue of there being no immigration officers on duty was never raised in the article.
And as I know the Shenzhen/Baoan Airport receives international passengers around the clock.Therefore they should have immigration staff on duty 24 hours a day seven days a week.
scmp04
COMPENSATION!!!!!
KwunTongBypass
Airlines = Union infested government bureaucrazies! What did you expect?
cwfisher2
This is the kind of careless attitude that locked those people on the plane for all of that time. This kind of thing doesn't just happen... incompetent or uncaring people make it happen and the customers do not hold them accountable for it.
scmpcoolguy
You are half right.
A friend of mine works at the HK Civil Aviaition Authority and I was told for passenger checked in at SHanghai destined for HKG, they are on an "International" flight and to allow them to get off and into the SHenzhen Airport transit lounge, they need to cancel all previous paper work already filed at Shanghai Pudong Airport for international travel. But Dragon Air has no ground crew at SZ Huang Tian Airport to do all the filing work.
Chances are Dragon Air did at the end cancel all the paper work filed at SH Airport and all passengers were then free to go as they please. Dragon Air should have filed fresh papers to fly passengers from SZ back to HKG but since as I said earlier since Dragon Air does not have any ground crew in SZ, there was no one on the ground at SZ Airport to file fresh papers for the connecting flight back to HKG.
I suspect the air crew was at a loss and coupled with the boisterious passengers, the crew on board this unforunate flight probably opt to left the passengers go back to HKG on their own devices. Otherwise, the pasengers would have to wait for ground staff to come from HKG and file all fresh paper work to take them from SZ back to HKG. The air crew probably reckoned they would unable to calm down the passengers any further so they opt for the easy way out.
If only passengers would be a little more understanding of the situation faced by the helpless air crew, a lot of bitterness could be avoided. Sighs.......
Beaker
Welcome to the realization that China is only a pretend 1st world country. It is in fact a 2nd world country disguising itself as a proper civilized place and forcefully telling everyone that, under threat of being bullied in the high seas. Imagine if someone had SARS or HxNy inside that plane, what a total disaster it would be now for control of the disease. They have now several days each to incubate and the passengers are all released into HK and some have travelled onwards. Great one China.
OC2S
Perhaps a good question for next time ... 'What did dragon air operations in Hk do about addressing this matter? What were they doing to try and address issues faced by their customers? Etc etc
Instead we get a line trotted out by the communications team that the SCMP laps up. No much point in having press freedom if no one uses it.
rpasea
I had a similar experience when traveling from PVG to HKG during a typhoon. We were diverted to Taipei and forced to stay on the plane. Understandable as many mainlanders on board w/o Taiwan visas. Finally landed at HKG early the next morning. Not very comfortable but everyone remained calm and polite.
Stephan
hahahah...but of course COMPENSATION!!!!!!! that's the first word a Chinese learns to say!!! Horrible mentality!
reggiedog
Yeah, it's all the fault of the workers (i.e. us), let's give more power to corporations, that's been working so well elsewhere.
village2206
This is not an unusual situation however it is a very long and uncomfortable period of time to be stuck on the ground and confined--- for everyone-- not just the passengers.
The root cause is the lack of an agreement between the fairly localised airports/ immigration/ customs and other officials including the airlines..
Many years ago we couldnt land at Tianjin and circled over an area near Beijing several hours before landing at Beijing where we waited for three hours. We were then flown to Tianjin. I recall hearing others whinge and whine about other aircraft landing before us at the time of the go round. Im here to write this!! Many blamed the pilot many blamed the ground. Obviously still happens. On the other hand landed at Kao after flying from Taipei to HK. Couldnt land at HK and tracked back to Kao. It is fairly evident we couldnt go back to HK that day-- Every one got off after three housr and were billeted in Kao.. I suspect most issues are related to which country you land in/at.
unicronix
r6b, yes agreed but unless there is an official on this plane nothing will be done.
Dragon will do nothing to help 250 passengers but would move heaven and earth for 1 official.
johnyuan
To charlie...,
Poor judgment in time of the unexpected. There are real leader and professional. There are just reacting and working as a job.
.
Don't know what those ** stand for? I guess you are part of that crew and blaming the weather for the very poor judgment and decision made. Or most likely the crew must have acted according to the order from higher up in Hong Kong. Head(s) must roll.
.
Bally Singh
Shame on China and the Chinese Government . They feel justified when they throw insults on the governments and Airline authorities of Malaysian government over the missing MH370, but when they are unable to handle the adverse situations in their own backyard , there is no protest against the authorities or solutions provided by the Chinese Government. What a shame ... Hypocritic Chinese Government.
whoaman
Communist government, no leaving the plane allowed, no 'visas', etc...
scmpcoolguy
You are half right.
A friend of mine works at the HK Civil Aviaition Authority and I was told for passenger checked in at SHanghai destined for HKG, they are on an "International" flight and to allow them to get off and into the SHenzhen Airport transit lounge, they need to cancel all previous paper work already filed at Shanghai Pudong Airport for international travel. But Dragon Air has no ground crew at SZ Huang Tian Airport to do all the filing work.
Chances are Dragon Air did at the end cancel all the paper work filed at SH Airport and all passengers were then free to go as they please. Dragon Air should have filed fresh papers to fly passengers from SZ back to HKG but since as I said earlier since Dragon Air does not have any ground crew in SZ, there was no one on the ground at SZ Airport to file fresh papers for the connecting flight back to HKG.
I suspect the air crew was at a loss and coupled with the boisterious passengers, the crew on board this unforunate flight probably opt to left the passengers go back to HKG on their own devices. Otherwise, the pasengers would have to wait for ground staff to come from HKG and file all fresh paper work to take them from SZ back to HKG. The air crew probably reckoned they would unable to calm down the passengers any further so they opt for the easy way out.
If only passengers would be a little more understanding of the situation faced by the helpless air crew, a lot of bitterness could be avoided. Sighs.......
johnyuan
Locking up for nine hours in a cabin rare as it may be, but is there guarantee it won’t happen again when incompetent human judgment is at play all the time? I don’t know why flying experience has deteriorated so much. It used to be a great pleasure to fly even with United (not First Class) – choice of food and wine with a menu and served up with silvers (stainless steel). Flying no longer is a looking forward experience. We just want to get there quick. It is worse if it will not even get you there.
.
Never mind about air stewardess handing you a menu. Yes, go and get your own ice.
johnyuan
To charlie...,
Poor judgment in time of the unexpected. There are real leader and professional. There are just reacting and working as a job.
.
Don't know what those ** stand for? I guess you are part of that crew and blaming the weather for the very poor judgment and decision made. Or most likely the crew must have acted according to the order from higher up in Hong Kong. Heads must roll.
wkleong99@gmail.com
Just curious...what will they do to a person who will get panic attack in an enclosed area, like me??
BabyMan
Sounds like a US travel nightmare without homeland security. They do the same thing in the US with international diverted flights.
dienw
APOLOGY, EXPLANATION?
Shadow
This kind of small things usual to happen from great people and in greater countries.........................
captam
@ "The root cause is the lack of an agreement between the fairly localised airports/ immigration/ customs and other officials including the airlines.. "
Rubbish. the root cause is for passengers taking a decision to fly at all when there is a reliable high speed and environmentally friendly high speed train to take.
meoii
Agreed, but in a civilized manner (unlike some). Hopefully all decent travelers would have travel insurance, request a written confirmation (apology) from KA about the delay incident, keep your boarding pass stub and lodge a claim through the travel insurance company. Note a black rainstorm warning was issued but only a few hours, normally delays over 8 hours can be compensated for additional costs incurred (hotel, taxi, bus ride etc).
-
But if it's just more compensation wanted for pain and suffering well get a lawyer or go take a hike.
meoii
That's pretty harsh! But it probably was the best solution. You must get a lot of clearance before letting passengers leave an airport that wasn't the planned destination. After clocking hours inside a cockpit, pilots are "forced" to rest otherwise they are not fit to fly. Waiting for replacement pilots would have taken even longer than leaving by themselves.
-
There are buses from SZ airport directly to HK Elements (approx 2 hrs), pretty simple actually. However, that could have been organised and paid for by KA though.
-
Look at it this way:
Stay in SZ and wait (7am to 1:30pm...that's minimum 6hours)
Leave SZ airport to HK by bus (MAX. 3 hours)
-
Sometimes think before complaining! It could have been worse.
zvichadashote
I was on a Dragonair flight from HKG to Xiamen a few days before this incident. I was a little surprised to look on the route map on the monitor on the back of the seat infront of me to find out it said, "Local time at XMN 84:25 pm". (It was really around 10 am). So maybe Dragonair uses a different time system than the rest of the world and 9 hours is not considered a long time to keep passengers locked up.

Login

SCMP.com Account

or