Another day, another group of angry Chinese travellers causing a commotion somewhere in the world. This time, a group of tourists from Shanghai, Sichuan and Shenzhen staged a protest at Singapore’s Changi Airport after a lengthy delay of their Hong Kong Airlines flight.
Passengers say they were treated unprofessionally by airline staff who pretended they could not speak Mandarin Chinese. They continued to be ignored after sending a representative among them who was fluent in English to negotiate with the airline, they said.
Eventually, they decided that if they could not fly, they would stop other passengers from flying too. The group of 100 over tourists held up signs accusing Hong Kong Airlines of lying to them and blocked other passengers from getting to their boarding gates.
In a scuffle between the Chinese tourists and another group of passengers, one elderly woman fell and injured her hand. Airport police had to be called in to diffuse the situation, but were later accused of assaulting the passengers and threatening them with guns and handcuffs.
The kerfuffle caused an extra two-hour delay on top of the seven hours they had already been waiting, and when they finally touched down in Hong Kong 5.30am on Wednesday, the irate passengers decided they hadn’t had enough, and continued with their protest by refusing to get off the plane.
Hong Kong airport staff decided to call in the police, and after a 90 minute standoff, the passengers agreed to disembark, but continued to stage their sit-in inside the airport, complaining to the journalists who had by this time arrived to hear their grievances.
The protest only ended after Hong Kong Airlines upped its compensation from HK$400 to HK$1,200 per passenger.
The Singapore Police Force, said that following a review of CCTV footage, its staff were found to have acted “professionally” and “did not use a trolley to push it into the group”.
CNN notes that the tourists would likely have been better off if they’d been travelling within the EU, which requires airlines to compensate passengers between $330 and $800 for flight delays above two hours. The United States, on the other hand, has no federal regulations on delay compensations.