Date
26 September 2017
China United Airlines is under scrutiny after crew on one of its flights failed to stop some passengers from lighting up cigarettes. Photo: www.planespotters.net
China United Airlines is under scrutiny after crew on one of its flights failed to stop some passengers from lighting up cigarettes. Photo: www.planespotters.net

Chinese carrier under fire over smoking incident aboard plane

China United Airlines, a budget-carrier belonging to the China Eastern Airlines group, has come under fire after crew on one of its flights didn’t stop some passengers from smoking on or just outside an aircraft. 

Some passengers who took a flight from Chengdu to Beijing Saturday night have threatened to sue the airline for failing to prevent a few co-passengers from lighting up on the plane, Beijing News reported Tuesday.

A passenger was found smoking in the toilet on the red-eye flight to Beijing, according to the report. The cabin crew is said to have taken away the person’s matches and cigarettes, but the problem didn’t there. When the flight landed at an alternative airport due to weather reasons, four other men are said to have begun smoking just outside the open aircraft door.

“A flight attendant reluctantly asked the men to put out their cigarettes in a paper cup after many passengers complained,” a female passenger surnamed Deng was quoted as saying.

As per rules, smoking is not allowed not only on aircraft but also the entire area of airport runway. “But at the first instance, the flight attendants acquiesced,” Deng said.

Angry passengers called the police and sought fresh security checks on all passengers and luggage. But the flight captain refused and soon took off again for the original destination — Beijing.

A passenger who gave his surname as Huo said the captain was arrogant when questioned about the smoking incident.

“So what? All have arrived safely anyway… They can smoke as long as I allow [them],” the captain said, according to Huo. 

On Monday, China United Airlines issued a statement saying that the cabin crew had confiscated the cigarettes and eliminated the security risks. The captain decided to take off for Beijing instead of subjecting the passengers to fresh security checks as he was confident that flight safety was ensured, it said.

According to a preliminary investigation, the captain didn’t say: “They can smoke as long as I allow,” the statement said.

The carrier, however, promised to take serious action if subsequent investigation reveals that the crew had indeed breached some rules.

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MY/JP/RC

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