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November 24, 2015

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Airline to reform after botched emergency

China Southern Airlines said yesterday that it would improve procedures after a passenger claimed that the airline’s failure to tend to his medical condition in a timely manner resulted in emergency surgery.

The passenger, a journalist from northeast China’s Liaoning Province, was on a flight from Shenyang to Beijing on November 9 when his stomach started to ache. He informed the crew, who contacted Beijing Capital International Airport and asked for an ambulance to be ready upon arrival — roughly one and a half hours after takeoff.

The passenger said that he was already in excruciating pain when the airplane landed, yet instead of being taken to the ambulance immediately, the doors remained shut for another 50 minutes.

“The crew said the air traffic controllers failed to reply so they had to wait,” the passenger said in his blog post that has since been shared several thousand times.

According to the carrier, technical difficulties with the plane’s brakes did not allow it to move. A tow truck eventually arrived to take the plane to the apron, where the doors were opened.

An argument then ensued between the crew and the ambulance over who should take the passenger off the plane.

Eventually, the passenger claimed in his blog post, he carried himself to the ambulance without assistance.

The passenger was finally sent to the Peking University People’s Hospital eight hours after the plane landed. He was diagnosed with acute intestinal obstruction and had to have part of his intestine removed.

China Southern yesterday apologized and said it would improve procedures for medical emergencies, but said that medical staff at the airport were also to blame.

“The airline will negotiate with the medical workers at the airport to improve the process to hand over patients,” China Southern said in a statement.

The airline also apologized to the passenger, who wanted to make sure that the airline improved its conduct.

“I don’t want any apology or compensation, but I want the carriers to save time when they encounter similar cases in the future,” he said.

The blog post received some 6,000 comments — mostly critical of the airline. Some, however, said that they understood the carriers reaction.

“It is impossible to risk the flying safety for a single passenger,” wrote a netizen who said that he works in the civil aviation industry.


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