Hong Kong Airlines flight HX234 from Hong Kong to Shanghai was delayed last Friday night along with more than 60 other Shanghai-bound flights as a result of poor weather conditions in Shanghai and a hiccup by Chinese air traffic control. A total of 276 passengers were forced to sit for hours on board the 9:00 p.m. flight before the airline arranged for their transfer to another flight, allowing them to leave the aircraft at 2:00 a.m. and providing them with breakfast and lunch vouchers while they waited in the terminal.
Whilst most passengers were happy to deplane and switch over to another flight, 77 mainlanders onboard decided to “occupy” the aircraft in protest for almost 20 hours. They tried calling in the Hong Kong Police and, realizing they weren’t particularly bothered by their plight, then appealed to the People’s Daily for backup, alleging that Hong Kong Airlines staff refused to give them water or food and had cut off the air conditioning onboard. The worst indignity of all: the airline only offered 200HKD in compensation.
Today, however, Hong Kong Airlines has come out to say that they consistently offered their passengers/”occupiers” food and drinks and never turned off the air conditioning, and stewardesses even gave them their own equipment to help them recharge their mobile phones. Nonetheless, the occupiers invaded staff space by ransacking the galley in search of more food and making a mess in the lavatory, according to staff. Photos taken by one air hostess show mountains of empty food packaging strewn across the floor.
Ultimately, the occupiers agreed to leave the plane once Hong Kong Airlines upped their compensation offer to 800HKD, as yet more airline staff stand incensed at what they regard as arrogant and uncivilized behaviour from mainland passengers. A popular post on the Facebook group HX & OU Secrets suggests that they “boycott Putonghua” on July 1, the holiday that marks Hong Kong’s handover to PRC sovereignty.
By Ryan Kilpatrick