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Well, That Escalated Quickly: Passengers Brawl With Gate Agents Over Flight Delay

Well, That Escalated Quickly: Passengers Brawl With Gate Agents Over Flight Delay
Jeff Edwards

Delayed flights can be frustrating, but two passengers at Changshui International Airport (KMG) in China raised the stakes considerably upon learning their departure would be behind schedule. The pair of aggressive passengers was filmed turning abusive and violently attacking gate agents soon after learning the bad news that they would be temporarily grounded.

A cell phone video obtained by The Mirror shows the irate passengers arguing with and then attacking airline workers after learning that weather conditions would keep their flight form taking off on time. By the end of the melee, several airport workers and security agents became involved in the unfortunate departure hall combat. Eyewitnesses reported that at least one of the instigators was left “bleeding and looked to have a serious head injury” by the time the dust settled.

Airport officials confirmed some details of the pre-flight brawl. In a statement, authorities said that the fight was started by two flyers who were believed to be drunk at the time. A KMG spokesperson added that the injuries suffered by one of the passengers were “of his own doing, after his head hit a solid object.”

After several similar high-profile incidents caused public outcry and embarrassment for government officials, regulators in China vowed to come down hard on the worst offenders. Officials report a marked decrease in such incidents in recent months.

In February of last year China’s Air Transport Association began cracking down on growing problems with unruly passengers. In cooperation with the country’s five largest carriers, the agency started to maintain a list of so-called “uncivilized passengers.” Out-of-control travelers now face substantial fines and air travel bans of up to a decade as result of antisocial airside behavior such as physically attacking ticket agents over weather delays.

[Photo: Shutterstock]

View Comments (4)


  1. Outoftime

    February 15, 2017 at 4:59 am

    The problems are made worse by several factor’s prominent in Chinese airports. One factor is the heavy pollution in many cities that closes airports down not infrequently. The fact that the air lanes are controlled by the military and can be shut down at anytime and restricts planes from veering from their original flight of travel is another factor.

    Lastly, the staff at the airports give out NO information as to what is happening when there is a delay, when it will be resolved, or help in making alternate plans. I was caught for seven hours at this dame airport back in 2014 and here is an article documenting the problem.

  2. bryanb

    February 15, 2017 at 9:50 am

    I can attest to this as well. During a month-long business trip across China, I’d say that 80% of flights were delayed or cancelled. The airport P.A. system was a non-stop stream of announcements, and the flight board was a sea of “delayed” red in virtually every airport.

    Obviously, there are examples of boorish behavior and certain norms/etiquette are still developing in China, but it’s not fair to just say that passengers are uncivilized. The boom in Chinese travel and the rise of ultramodern airports have not been matched by an improvement in air traffic control infrastructure, where the military has a choke-hold, as Outoftime points out. I read articles in state newspapers demanding solutions to this, but I’m not sure who the state-controlled press is arguing with, unless it is just illuminating a rift between China’s military and civil interests.

  3. TravelTW

    February 15, 2017 at 12:48 pm

    I wish airlines in the UK can restrain unruly passengers by convincing them to “self discipline”themselves… “of his own doing, after his head hit a solid object.” That would solve the hordes of drunk and rude passengers.

  4. patch8

    February 15, 2017 at 9:31 pm

    i have been caught up in cancellations/ delays in China as well…..and the ATC system may not be able to keep up……but the physical abuse of a front-line employee who has absolutely NO control over a delayed flight situation is the EPITOME of uncivilized, and yes, it IS fair to say so…… because pollution or the military closure of commercial air traffic lanes causes a delay, you beat the living daylights out of a gate agent ….. that is UNCIVILIZED behavior in my book….

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