BANGKOK – Four unruly Chinese passengers, one of whom scalde an Air Asia stewardess with hot water and threatened to blow up a plane have been branded ‘barbarians’ by Chinese state-run media – the latest in a string of tourists to embarrass the country’s travellers.
China’s National Tourism Watchdog has vowed to “punish” the group after a low-cost flight from Thailand to the eastern city of Nanjing was forced to return to Bangkok when a female Chinese passenger threw hot water and noodles at a cabin attendant.
The Jiangsu Provincial Tourism Bureau said on Monday that they had asked the provincial tourism association to blacklist the group – although there was no further indication of what that would entail.
The tour company that led the group has also had its licence suspended for a year, the bureau said.
Online video images also showed a male passenger threatening to blow up the aircraft following the row with crew, reportedly because the group could not be seated together.
One male passenger later lost his temper when a crew member told him that change for his purchase – a cup of hot water – could be given only in Thai baht. He demanded his change in renminbi as well as a receipt.
When the attendant said it was not possible, the passenger berated her. His companion, a woman from Anhui, then threw the hot water and noodles at the attendant.
“The attendant burst into tears immediately,” other passengers told The Beijing Times.
The chief attendant asked the Anhui woman to apologise to the crew member or the plane would return to Bangkok, the witnesses said.
“We could feel the plane descending, but [the woman passenger] refused to apologise,” they said.
The China Daily, which is published by the government, lambasted the group in an editorial and said the incident would “tarnish” the image of the Chinese people.
“They believed that behaving like barbarians would get them what they wanted, forgetting that civility demands that a fellow human being be treated as an equal,” it said.
“The incident should serve as a lesson not just for the four culprits, but also for all Chinese to behave properly to get respect.”
Thai AirAsia Flight FD9101 departed Bangkok’s northern airport Don Mueang for Nanjing at 5.55pm on Thursday with 174 passengers and six crew on board, but was forced to turn back after trouble flared.
China’s National Tourism Administration said over the weekend that the passengers – who were reportedly given token fines by Thai authorities – will be “severely punished” for their actions and put on a database of unruly tourists.
“The administration’s move should be encouraged,” Su Haopeng, vice dean of the Law School at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing told the Global Times.
“As it is the first time they have clearly stipulated that public behaviour should be not only punished by law, but also regulated by a record system.”
The passengers paid 50,000 Thai baht (HK$11,800) in compensation to the air hostess, the paper said citing Thai reports, while the female passenger who threw the hot water was fined an additional 200 baht.