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September 2, 2014

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No smoke without ire on flight to Beijing ...

CHINA United Airlines is to order one of its captains to apologize and will compensate passengers for the way he and the cabin crew on a flight to Beijing dealt with people flouting the smoking ban.

Just an hour into the 10pm flight from Chengdu in southwest China’s Sichuan Province on Saturday, a man was found smoking in the lavatory. The flight attendant asked him to hand over his matches and cigarettes after several complaints.

Two hours later, the plane was diverted to Taiyuan in north China’s Shanxi Province because of bad weather in Beijing.

After the Boeing 737, with about 150 passengers, landed and an oil tanker started to refuel the aircraft, five passengers were seen smoking at the cabin door.

“It was too dangerous since the fuel tank was just beside them,” a passenger surnamed Bai told reporters. She said crew members did nothing to stop them until there were protests.

Some passengers called the police, who advised a further security check. But the captain declined, saying the flight was already badly behind schedule, according to media reports.

After the plane landed at Beijing’s Nanyuan Airport around 5am, some passengers refused to leave, demanding an explanation and compensation.

However, the captain said no explanation was needed as the plane had landed safely. One passenger claimed the captain said: “They can smoke as long as I agree.”

Other passengers criticized the captain for his “bad attitude” and he even pushed a female passenger aside at the airport as he left with the rest of the crew.

China United Airlines said yesterday that the 23 passengers who had protested would receive 1,800 yuan (US$293) each and a refund of their ticket price. The captain will apologize to passengers, who will also get a free ticket for any domestic route with the airline, the carrier said.

“The smoking passengers managed to avoid being found by the airport security checks to bring matches and cigarettes onto the plane,” the airline said in a statement.

The airline said it had contacted the airport authority in Chengdu about improving its security checks.


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