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February 24, 2012

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Airline blacklists backed by public

RECENT clashes between passengers and flight crews have pushed the domestic carriers' blacklist system into the spotlight again.

Although passengers overwhelmingly support the practice for the sake of public safety, lawyers and consumer-rights activists say the blacklist system violates the law and damages the dignity of passengers.

After a passenger injured a crew member of a China Southern Airlines flight last week, an online poll showed that 95 percent of people supported domestic airlines' practice of blacklisting misbehaved passengers who injured crew members or caused flight delays.

They agreed the list could deter those who want to pick a quarrel with crew members and ensure flight safety.

Most of the few against the blacklist said it would infringe the rights of consumers, according to the online poll launched by a flight service provider called Veryzhun yesterday.

Others said it would be useless and that airlines should improve services to avoid clashes between passengers and crew members.

A passenger beat a China Southern attendant last Friday after he failed to get the magazine he wanted.

Airport police asked the man to compensate the hostess, whose eye was left bleeding, 600 yuan (US$95).

In another case, a Shanghai couple was forced to get off a United Airlines flight from Guam to Shanghai before takeoff after the husband told one of the attendants to "shut up" on February 1.

"The passengers were asked by the captain to alight the aircraft as they posed a threat to the safety of the flight and its passengers," United Airlines later announced.

Shanghai-based Spring Airlines has set up a list of passengers to whom the private carrier "declines to provide service."

"The list was mainly for the interests of other passengers and to ensure flight safety," Zhang Wuan, an airline spokesman, said yesterday.

The passengers can be removed from the list after three years or apologizing to the airline, he said.

"The carriers should set up more detailed service regulations to inform the passengers and report to the regulator for approval before launching the blacklist," said Zou Jianjun, deputy professor at the Civil Aviation Management Institute of China.

Zou said the privacy of the blacklisted passengers should also be protected.

But a lawyer and a government official both said the blacklist was in violation of consumer rights.

The airlines shall not set any blacklist and must act in accordance with laws, an official with Shanghai's consumer-rights protection commission said yesterday.

He said airlines should avoid conflicts with passengers by improving their services rather than with blacklists.


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