Flight with VIP takes off while others are still delayed; quarrel ensues
As the rainy season starts in southeastern and eastern part of China, many flights experienced weather-related delays. On the afternoon of May 8, two flights both leaving for Beijing from Ningbo, a city in eastern Zhejiang province, were put behind among others. However, when the sky cleared in the evening, one flight originally scheduled to take off later than the other did not observe the first-come-first-serve policy and left first. Angry passengers made to wait besieged the airline staff and demanded an explanation. One of them wrote a post and uploaded pictures online. (Watch a video of angered passengers beat bossy Air China platinum fliers)
Below are pictures uploaded by one passenger of the scuffle between passengers with Flight HU7197 and the airport staff.
Flights on May 8 were held up by the rainy weather, and passengers were made to stay at the airport.
Hainan Airlines flight HU7197′s departure is scheduled at 6:00 p.m, whereas HU7297, also a Hainan Airlines flight, should take off at 8:50 p.m. Both flights were held up by the rainy weather for several hours that day. Nevertheless, when circumstances finally permitted, HU7297 took precedence over HU7197.
According to the post author, most passengers of HU7197 kept lashing out at the airport staff and asking for an explanation before the airport staff told the truth in the end that a very important traveler is with HU7297, and priority must be given to him and his flight. When passengers demanded exposure of identity of the VIP in question, the workers said they were not able to find his profile. After several bouts of wrangle, one agent said the VIP is an official, and that the crew tried to talk him into changing his flight to HU7197, which would allow him to fly first without trespassing against the policy, but he rejected the suggestion on the ground of ‘safety concerns.’ (Read how Chinese airlines prioritize those high in the political hierarchy and let cadres fly first.)
When the passengers turned to the Hainan Airline gate agents, they blamed the air traffic controllers, saying that they are responsible for deciding which flight departs first, and that they must have mistaken 7297 for 7197, as the two numbers were very close.
After the news was reported by the media, Ningbo Airport responded to the media unapologetically that the Civil Aviation Administration of China has a policy to guarantee quality services for important passengers, who, by definition, include cadres of deputy ministerial rank or above and ensure their precedence. The Ningbo airport was simply following the policy.
On December 25, 2010, CCTV reporter Li Xiaomeng wrote in her Sina microblog that she redeemed her miles and got an upgrade to the first class on a flight from Beijing to Hangzhou, only to find that her seat was taken by a man, who also put his coat on the neighboring seat. She complained to a flight attendant, who seemed very qualmish about intervening. After the airplane landed in Hangzhou airport, she heard all cabin crew at the gate salute the man and say, “Governor, sorry for your hard trip.” “Here is the answer to the qualm and hubris,” Li Xiaomeng wrote.
The message were shared by over 7,000 microblog users. Netizens even launched human search flesh engine against the governor in question. (Jing: a Chinese Internet phenomenon. Net users spontaneously make concerted efforts to piece together facts and information dotting the Web, e.g. one’s photos, one’s online profile, and even one’s IP address, to identify previously unknown people and expose hidden truth.) Li Xiaomeng had to publish another post calling on net users to stop “human flesh search,” citing her concern that she would be accused of “abusing media’s power to vent personal spite.”