Eighty-six mainland visitors refused to board a plane at Chek Lap Kok airport after their flight was delayed for almost five hours.
Some of the passengers, protesting against a HK$100 compensation offer, said ground staff argued with them. A Hong Kong Airlines and Hong Kong Express spokeswoman denied this.
The flight had been scheduled to take off at 7.05pm, but was delayed to 8.50pm and then 11.40pm. Passengers demanded compensation of HK$800 and called police to settle the dispute.
One who refused to board said the attitude of the ground staff was poor.
'Who doesn't want to return home immediately? All of us thought we were mistreated as their attitudes were very poor,' she said. 'One of the airline staff quarrelled with us. We demanded a clear explanation about the delay but he refused, and said he would call the police. They did not even respect us.'
The spokeswoman said the delay was caused by difficulties arranging flights during the Lunar New Year holiday. She said the airline had offered passengers the VIP lounge and to pay all transport costs after their return to Beijing. But most of them insisted on staying in the restricted area.
Of the 86 who refused to board, 63 took flights on other airlines.