Passengers Charge a Security Barrier at Hong Kong Airport With 500 Flights Disrupted

A typhoon caused significant flight cancellations and delays out of Hong Kong and passengers got so frustrated they tried to storm a security barrier Tuesday morning.

With over 500 flights disrupted, passenger queues became unmanageable. I’ve experienced this in US hubs — phone lines have queues that are hours-long even for elites if the phones systems can even still distinguish and ticket counter lines that stretch towards infinity with light security queues because no one can get a boarding pass until they’ve been rescheduled (so agents on the other side of the checkpoints have relatively little to do).

Here’s what things looked like at the airport:

It’s truly weather. Airlines use weather as an excuse all the time — weather anywhere. But this was a typhoon that shuttered the stock exchanged and closed schools as well.

Few airlines handle these sorts of events well because such extreme disruptions are so uncommon that they don’t have the staff on hand to process everyone in reasonable time.

While Cathay Pacific is a fantastic airline, and they offer great service, this just wasn’t something they could manage gracefully.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Trying to understand the point of this post…or value add? Yes, when there is a typhoon airlines are overwhelmed because of staffing shortages. Don’t most readers of this blog understand that already?

  2. The same things happens at every airport around the world that encounters massive flight cancellations. If there was a riot or the Chinese government moved in with tanks that would be news worthy but this is hardly newsworthy. Next……..

  3. By Tuesday evening the backlog was clear and there was no line for security when I passed through. The recovery was way more impressive than the problem, I can’t imagine a US or European airport being more or less back to normal so quickly

  4. To make matters worse, many of the non-asian carriers at HKG rely on third party ticket agents that don’t really seem to know (or care much about) the carrier systems or flights in my experiences there.

  5. I don’t get it. The headline says “Passengers storm a security barrier,” but the video shows what appears to be a remarkably calm scene. I fly out of HKG fairly often, and obviously have never seen it so crowded, but the video showed no evidence of anger or rioting or storming.

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