China is a remarkable story of growth and transformation. Huge cities rarely get attention in the West because they have ‘only’ 4 million people. The move from rural areas to new mega-cities – and concomitant economic growth – has been a culture shock.
I’ve read about how Boeing went into China to help them build an air traffic control and safety infrastructure, to develop the market they wanted to sell airplanes into. The fast lesson was they couldn’t bring U.S. standards to China but rather had to help bring China up to world standards. It’s a careful dance as the country goes through change.
As Chinese modernization brings air travel to the masses of its citizens, sometimes there’s a culture clash in the sky.
- You get passengers behaving badly.
- And sometimes they pop the aircraft sliding looking for the lavatory.
- And self-upgrade.
- So it’s important for Chinese flight attendants to learn kung fu (though they may have to interview in bikinis).
Call for a doctor inflight and you may wind up with an acupuncturist who uses toothpicks. During irregular operations you may get put up in an S&M-themed hotel. Try to buy a ticket from an online travel agency and they may give you a ticket purchased with brokered miles. Some of the airport infrastructure is questionable.
When visiting Beijing before the Olympics in 2008, I remember seeing signs all over “the world is watching.” The Chinese government wanted to shape its citizens behavior, make it more ‘civilized’. So too with Chinese travelers. Indeed China’s tourism authority names and shames bad behavior. And they’ll hunt down tourists who behave badly abroad.
“Fish out of water” stories from flights in China are common as more and more people are flying. Hence the story this week about a man flying from Meizhou to Haikhou who delayed his Beijing Capital Airlines flight when he got curious about the emergency exit.
Meizhou is a city of 4 million in eastern Guangdong province. Haikou is the capital of Hainan province, a city of about 2 million people around 135 miles north of beach resort Sanya.
Flight tracking at FlightAware is incomplete for the flight, so I first had a look at the schedule for Beijing Capital Airlines JD5595:
The flight was nearly 3 hours’ delayed. Though FlightAware doesn’t show it, the aircraft is an Airbus A319.
The man, sitting by the emergency exit, removed part of the door shortly before takeoff.
However, cabin crew and passengers were shocked to see one man, seated next to the emergency exit, had taken a component off the door.
The traveler claimed that he had been curious as to what might happen, according to the report.
Pictures from the scene showed that a square cover on the emergency exit had been removed completely by the man.