A Chinese passenger has been ordered to pay an airline company more than £13,000 as compensation after throwing two coins at the plane’s engine, causing the flight to be cancelled and more than 160 passengers stuck overnight.
The 28-year-old man, named Lu Chao, was travelling by air for the first time with his wife and son when he tossed the coinage towards the aircraft in eastern China, according to a regional court.
All passengers set to travel with the domestic flight were left stranded at the airport and the carrier had to arrange overnight accommodation for them before they could take a replacement flight the next day, the court said.
The 28-year-old man, named Lu Chao, admitted to throwing two 1 yuan coins at a Lucky Air passenger jet after they were found by ground staff near the left engine of the plane last year
Flight No. 8L9960 from Anqing, Anhui province to Kunming, Yunnan was cancelled, affecting 162 passengers and costing the airline nearly 140,000 yuan (£16,000), Lucky Air said on Friday
Mr Lu was detained by Anqing Public Security Bureau for 10 days before being sued by the airline in May.
The case was ruled by a regional court in eastern China’s Anhui Province in July. The verdict was recently published by China Judgements Online, a website run by the Supreme People’s Court of China.
According to the court document, Mr Lu was boarding a three-hour flight with Lucky Air from Anqing to Kunming when his act was caught on February 17 last year.
The flight No. 8L9960 was grounded after workers at the Tianzhushan Airport in Anqing discovered the coins with a denomination of one yuan (10p) on the tarmac.
One of the coins was found directly underneath the aircraft and the other was spotted on the ground about one metre (3.3 feet) in front of the plane’s left engine.
Mr Lu was boarding a three-hour flight with Lucky Air (file photo) when his act was caught
The superstitious man was travelling with his wife and one-year-old child and was hoping for a safe journey when he threw the money, Anqing police said in a previous statement.
Kunming-based Lucky Air, an affiliation of Hainan Airlines, said it decided to seek 123,358 yuan (£13,444) in compensation from the passenger because his action had cost them ‘a series of expenses’, including maintenance and repairing fees, accommodation fees for the passengers as well as compensation for the passengers.
It said the incident had affected 162 passengers and costed the airline nearly 140,000 yuan (£16,000).
The company filed a lawsuit against Mr Lu on May 13 after the two parties failed to reach an agreement.
Many Chinese people believe that chucking coins at a specific target could bring them luck
Mr Lu’s lawyer pled to the court for leniency, arguing that the man was less fortunate, had reaslied his mistake and had already been punished by detention.
The lawyer said that Mr Lu’s education level was low and had not realised that his action could lead to serious consequences.
The lawyer also accused the airport of failing to remind passengers against the act.
The court ruled in favour of the airline. It deemed that any normal person with common sense would think that the coins might land in the engines, which could lead to ‘a serious accident’.
It added that the airport did not have the duty to remind passengers against the act because coins were not a banned item during flight.
Lucky Air said it caught three passengers, including Mr Lu, throwing coins at their planes on three separate occasions between October 2017 and March 2018.
It has urged the public not to resort to the act for good luck.
Should any coins get sucked into a plane’s engines, they may not only damage the blades, but also cause fire which could be fatal during a flight, the airline has warned.
This is not the first time a passenger has attempted to toss coins into an aircraft engine for good fortune and a safe flight in the country.
In September, a 23-year-old medical graduate threw three coins towards a plane’s engine in hope of helping her nephew get over his diarrhoea at an airport in Sichuan Province.
In April, a 66-year-old female passenger was detained by police for throwing six coins at a plane for good luck before take-off in Inner Mongolia.
Those who disrupt the normal operation of companies and organisations are subject to a maximum of 10 days of detention and 500 yuan (£56) cash penalty, according to China’s Public Security Administration Punishment Law.
Unruly and untrustworthy passengers in China may also be blacklisted by the country’s civil aviation authority and banned from taking planes, according to the nation’s social credit system.
Why do Chinese air passengers throw coins at planes?
It has been estimated that more than 70 per cent of Chinese – or more than one billion people – have never flown in their life, therefore are oblivious of flight safety regulations
Many Chinese people believe that chucking coins at a specific target could bring them good luck or ward off evil spirits. This could range from a statue in a park to a bell in a temple.
More interestingly, the majority of the nation’s citizens have never travelled by air despite the fact that the country is set to overtake the United States to be the largest air travel market in the world in 2022.
Most air passengers in China are repeated travellers from big cities.
It has been estimated that more than 70 per cent of Chinese – or more than one billion people – have never flown in their life; therefore they are oblivious of the etiquette and safety regulations of travelling by air.
In April, a 66-year-old female passenger was detained by police for throwing six coins at a plane for good luck before take-off in Inner Mongolia, northern China.
A month earlier, two passengers were detained by police in Jinan, eastern China, after tossing dimes at a plane operated by Lucky Air.
The domestic flight was delayed for two hours as a result, affecting 260 passengers.
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