China's Latest Plane Debacle: Angry Tour Group Opens Emergency Doors


Next time, just open a vent: Chinese tourists upset about ventilation opened a plane’s emergency exit doors mid-taxi. (Photo: Twitter/The Straits Times)

Stories of inflight misbehavior among Chinese tourists are getting even more outlandish.

On Saturday, more than two dozen members of a tour group were detained at Kunming Changshui International Airport in southwestern China, after one of them allegedly opened their plane’s emergency exits just as the flight was pushing back from the gate. The pilot had to abort takeoff and the flight was canceled.

Reports say passengers — already upset that the plane had to be delayed for de-icing — became furious when the plane turned off the air conditioning to keep the de-icing fumes from entering the cabin. Tour group members allegedly were arguing with the crew about ventilation when the exit doors started popping open.

Police detained 25 members of the tour group and ended up locking up two of them: the man police say opened two of the doors and the female tour guide who reportedly prompted him to do it. They’ll be jailed for 15 days. And the names of everyone involved in the incident may be placed on a national database of bad travelers.

Also last week, a Hong Kong court has fined a Chinese man the equivalent of $270, after he pleaded guilty to lighting up in the bathroom on a Cathay Pacific flight to Bangkok last month. The smoker was busted when his in-flight cigarette break set off an alarm.


A Chinese man has been fined for smoking on a Cathay Pacific flight to Hong Kong. (Photo: Thinkstock)

The man, a 61-year-old farmer, told the court he’s illiterate and wasn’t able to read the “No Smoking” signs.

It’s the latest in a slew of embarrassing travel stories involving Chinese passengers. Last month alone, in addition to the bathroom smoker, there were three other in-flight incidents: an irate passenger on a China-bound flight reportedly got into a dispute with a flight attendant and threw hot water on her; on another flight, a full-on brawl broke out between three women during a dispute over a crying baby; and in the third incident, a guy trying to disembark after a flight opened the emergency exit and deployed the escape chute because (he later told the cops that he was trying to get off the plane quicker).

Related: China Tries to Fight ‘Bad Tourist’ Stereotype

Crying Baby Leads to Mid-Air Brawl. Plus, Tips for Traveling With a Baby During the Holidays
Crying Baby Leads to Mid-Air Brawl. Plus, Tips for Traveling With a Baby During the Holidays

This in-flight brawl was one of several travel fails involving Chinese tourists last month. (Photo: Twitter)

Experts attribute China’s travel problems to the fact that many citizens are just now becoming wealthy enough to travel, leading to a surge of tourists who don’t know how to behave. That appears to be the case with the bathroom smoker, whose trip was a gift from his niece.

Understandably, that 61-year-old illiterate passenger has little traveling experience and could hardly understand the negative influence of smoking on plane safety,” says Dr. Jingjing Yang, a tourism development lecturer at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom who has done extensive work in the field of overseas Chinese tourism.

Jingjing suggests China needs to do more to educate its inexperienced travelers about appropriate behavior and the punishment for breaking the rules. “For those first-time travelers, before and during their travel, guidelines about travel and destinations should be provided by travel agencies, tour guides, and also their family members who have more travel experience,” she says.

And the top guideline these travel experts should share with their less travel-savvy citizens: Don’t smoke on airplanes.

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