A near-riot broke out at Changshui International Airport in Kunming last Thursday, as wont to happen in Chinese airports now and then. Pictures surfaced of passengers screaming at airline staff, beating up ground crew, climbing over check-in counters, commandeering the airport’s broadcast system and generally taking their anger out on any computers or ticket machines they could get their hands on.
A sudden thick fog caused more than 400 flights to be cancelled, stranding nearly 10,000 passengers. The cancellations began at about noon and things began to get tense when the airport failed to provide any updated flight information – leaving people with no idea about their scheduled departures all day.
The airport also failed to provide hot water or even sufficient heat to the restless passengers already suffering through one of China’s coldest winter storms on record. There are no nearby hotels, so comfort was hard to find. And when passengers complained about the low temperatures in the airport they were told the heating system was “not fully operational.” According to Global Times:
A journalist from the Kunming-based newspaper Yunnan Daily, who declined to be named, confirmed to the Global Times that the airport, which went into operation just six months ago, was short of ground crew and not equipped with enough support facilities.
“There is no large hotel close to the airport so stranded passengers are sent back downtown, 30 kilometers away. When passengers complained about the low temperature inside the airport, they were told that the heating system was not fully operational.”
By Thursday evening, the long delays, cold temperatures, and hours without being told the status of their flights had sent the crowd into a frenzy, which was not quelled until police were called in to restore order.
There were no reports of serious injuries or arrests. Flights resumed Friday but the backlog continued well into the weekend.