It started with an early-morning flight out of Shanghai. I was headed back to Beijing after a few days of work, and while the departure time of 7:30 am was excruciatingly early, I was comforted by the fact that I had scored an economy-priced first-class seat.
Everything went smoothly at the start – more than smoothly, in fact, since I luxuriated in a huge seat while wearing slippers, sipped freshly brewed Americano from fine china, and snacked from a bowl of warm nuts, all before take-off. I settled in, ready to fully enjoy the two-hour journey.
After we had reached altitude and the flight attendants brought me my breakfast, complete with a white tray-table cloth and freshly squeezed OJ, the captain got on the mic to make an announcement.
A 13-year-old girl managed to convince everyone, for at least a few days, that she was a flight attendant at Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport despite the fact that she's 13 and definitely not a flight attendant, reports Global Times.
Once again, Chinese tourists shame their countrymen:
"In the latest controversy involving Chinese tourists - a group of mainland travellers have upset Singapore Airlines staff by refusing to hand over 30 sets of stainless steel tableware during a recent flight, Chinese media reported."
If you're going to throw a hissy fit during a delay at a Chinese airport, do it like this woman: without violence, in front of an audience, with just the right dash of the dramatics. The Nanfang has a transcript of this young lady's soliloquy:
Boarding an airplane can put you through the rawest five minutes of judgement you'll ever face, especially if you're a foreigner. Like a slow, awkward fashion show, you amble down the aisle in fits and starts while everyone already seated simply stare.
On my recent Guilin-bound Chengdu plane, I was generally spared of any finger-pointing or comments before I slid into my middle seat, wedged between A and C.
But then the 20-year-old boys came.
Ji Zhongxin, a 34-year-old petitioner born in Heze, Shandong province, blew himself up on Saturday in Terminal 3 of Beijing Capital International Airport. Watch how he did it, above, in a video that's been viewed 2.6 million times on Tencent.
A man in a wheelchair detonated a homemade explosion this evening at Beijing Capital International Airport's Terminal 3. It happened in the international arrivals hall at 6:24 pm, according to Xinhua, with no one else getting injured.
CCTV identified the man as Ji Zhongxing from Shandong province. The explosive was reportedly made using gunpowder from fireworks, and probably should be hashtagged "fail."
The Wall Street Journal revealed on Friday that China's airports are the world's worst for flight delays. "According to FlightStats, which tracks airport statistics, Beijing’s airport ranks dead last among the world’s top 35, with fully 82% of flights failing to leave on time," WSJ reported. "Second worst was Shanghai, at 71%." Numbers, numbers. We could link to a string of posts from our archives with picture and video evidence, but none of it will feel as real as our memories -- after all, we've all experienced the particular nightmare of flying in China.
Flight delays are frustrating, and if you, in the midst of a four-hour delay, have never allowed yourself to think barbarous, shamefully uncivilized and cruel thoughts, it doesn't make you a better person: you're just that smug asshole everyone always wants to punch.
But no one actually does punch you, and have you ever wondered why?
Thunderstorms in Shanghai on Friday caused massive flight delays and more than 100 cancellations in the city's two major airports, Hongqiao and Pudong, and as you might expect, tempers boiled over. We don't know how many dozens of arguments broke out in terminals around the city, and how many of those turned into fights, but at least one was caught on camera. It involved -- yes, once again -- China Eastern Airlines.
"My name is Daniel Morgan Perry, born March 12, 1978."
On United Airlines Flight 116 from Hong Kong to Newark on Monday, Daniel Morgan Perry, born March 12, 1978, demanded the plane be diverted to Canada, according to passengers, claiming his life was in danger. Also, something about poison and the CIA.
This is first-class: on a plane stuck on the Beijing airport tarmac for three hours yesterday, a quartet of musicians from the Philadelphia Orchestras took out their instruments, gathered in the aisle, and serenaded passengers. The music starts at the 1:11 mark in the above.
Fun fact: three of the stories we’ve posted in the past two days have been from Shenzhen. It’s where Alicia and I happened to be this weekend (for Ultimate Frisbee), and on Sunday we attempted to fly back.
Attempted and succeeded — but barely. A separate Shenzhen-to-Beijing airline ended up being delayed until 2 am, while our flight was only set back two hours, to 11 pm. (To the best of my knowledge, it wasn’t because of bomb threats.)
It’s 8:40 pm on a Friday. We’re lined up at the China Eastern Airlines counter a full ninety minutes before takeoff, and I have everything I need for a great, just-quit-work weekend: passport, check; cleats, check; Frisbee, check; baijiu-Fanta mix, check. But just then, China decides to remind me where I am. Ahead of us in line, an argument begins to stew, froth, and bubble. The verbal combatants are an elderly couple, possibly from the countryside, and two overdressed, overly made-up, and apparently overconfident young women.
The initial dispute is over whether a luggage cart bumped into an ankle, but it gets ugly fast: one of the girls taunts the old man's ability to speak standard Mandarin Chinese. Airline employees break up the verbal sparring as quickly as they can, but the tone for the evening has been set. At the counter, a friendly but frazzled attendant tells me my flight doesn't yet have a gate, and I already have an idea of what I'm in for.
These are the worst type of stories. The. Worst. What we have is a foreigner (laowai) and Chinese person arguing at Sanya Airport in Hainan province. (What is it with Sanya? We saw another foreigner and Chinese person tussle earlier.) The foreigner, wearing a fannypack, accuses the Chinese of cursing and "beating" him. The Chinese guy, presumably the one filming, posts this nationalistic tripe on Youku (a video that's been viewed 225,000 times in the last 11 hours):
Ever wondered how safe your valuables are when you’re onboard an international flight? There might be reason to be careful, especially if you’re traveling in southeast Asia – gangs from mainland China are supposedly targeting unsuspecting airline passengers. What first brought this to our attention was a story reposted by Lost Laowai. The original, which... Read more »
China’s air travel bubble is bringing out its fair share of violent characters, many with the burning desire to take out their frustration on airport personnel. January saw riots at Kunming’s new Changshui Airport, and a month later, CPPCC delegate Yan Linkun lost his cool. So what’s new in airport violence? See: Guangzhou gate agent in the fetal position.
We know the ship sailed on this one before the weekend, but here's a second look at CPPCC official Yan Linkun's epic meltdown at Kunming Changshu International Airport. This video carries sound and is brought to us via the always interesting blog Language Log. This is the discussion they had with the above as a prompt:
Huh. A man tried to check in a bag containing a real human leg, Guangzhou Daily reported on Tuesday. Unfortunately for him, the leg was spotted in the X-ray scan, and was seized by airport security. “There are restrictions for transporting human organs by air,” reads the second part of the GZ Daily headline.