|Hainan Airlines aircraft
(photo by Aero Icarus, licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons
On June 12 a Hainan Airlines flight from Taiyuan to Chongqing was delayed after two male passengers assaulted a flight attendant.
Flight HU7041 was scheduled for departure at 1:30 from Taiyuan Wusu International Airport. After the completion of boarding and safety check procedures the plane reached the runway and was taxiing, but the pilot stopped the aircraft shortly before take-off.
According to eyewitness accounts, the scuffle broke out after a flight attendant discovered that two passengers who had purchased economy class tickets were sitting in the first class. She told them that they could upgrade their tickets by paying a surcharge. However, because there was no credit card reader on board only cash payment was accepted.
The two passengers said they had no cash and could only pay by credit card. The flight attendant asked them to move back to the economy class, but the men refused. They argued with the plane staff and as the altercation grew more heated they began shouting and even hit a flight attendant. Because of the commotion many passengers left their seats and went to see what was happening. A young passenger tried to help the flight attendant.
As the situation got out of control the pilot, in order to safeguard the passengers’ safety, decided to stop taxi operations and drive the aircraft back to the starting point. The police and the airport security were notified, and the two male passengers were detained. The aircraft could safely take off around two hours after the scheduled departure time.
According to China‘s Public Security Administration Penalties Law passengers who cause disturbances and disrupt airport operations may be detained, face prison terms and be sued for compensation by airlines. Due to frequent cases of bad behaviour by Chinese passengers, this year China has introduced a black list scheme for unruly travellers.