China cops nab 25 for opening plane's doors
LOCAL police detained 25 passengers on board a plane in the south-western Chinese city of Kunming, after they argued with the plane's crew and opened emergency exits on Saturday.
China Eastern Airlines Flight MU2036, from Kunming to Beijing, had been scheduled to take off at 8.45pm on Friday. But continuing snow caused its departure to be delayed until early the next morning.
Bad weather in Kunming saw 23 flights cancelled and 83 others delayed that day.
The passengers had completed boarding the aircraft at 1.40am, but the crew had to wait for ice on the plane to be cleared before take-off.
An elderly woman became unwell after hours of waiting. Concerned about her physical condition, the other passengers demanded an explanation from the captain.
According to a passenger, the vice-captain issued an explanation to the travellers but failed to pacify them.
"He was quite emotional, swore and cursed (at) us," said a passenger nicknamed Fengyunzhe Tianxingjian on a microblog at 4.50am.
"Some passenger called (the) police, but the pilot insisted on taking off. So passengers opened three emergency doors in an attempt to stop the flight," he wrote. "The pilot (vice-captain, in fact) has lost control and we couldn't risk letting him start."
The flight, which had been taxiing, was then forced to return to the boarding gate.
A China Eastern Airlines Yunnan spokesman denied that a crew member had used "improper language". "Crew members followed the norms," the spokesman said.
The 25 passengers involved in the incident were held for questioning by the airport police, while the rest got on another flight to Beijing.
The event gained widespread attention from Web users in China.
Some were sympathetic to the passengers' plight.
"After several hours' waiting, did the airline take measures to pacify the passengers?" asked Fan Kai, editor of an aviation magazine, on his microblog.
But others believed that the way the passengers protested was not appropriate.
"It is very dangerous to fiddle with emergency doors," said Li Chengwei, a lawyer. "Passengers can protect their own rights, but that right shouldn't be abused at the expense of others' safety."
Last month, a Chinese passenger on a China Eastern flight from Xi'an to Hainan caused a two-hour delay when he attempted to get off the plane faster by using an emergency exit.
In a similar incident in Hangzhou, a Chinese man opened an emergency exit just before the plane took off to "get some air".
In November, a Chinese woman made headlines for splashing hot water on an AirAsia stewardess, because she was unhappy about not being seated beside her boyfriend.
CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK