Rain causes stormy scenes at airport as tempers fray

10:48, July 30, 2011      

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A traffic police officer helps a taxi driver to push his car to the roadside after it broke down due to heavy rain in Beijing on Friday. The rain also led to flights being canceled and delayed at Beijing Capital International Airport. (Luo Xiaoguang / Xinhua)

The frequent rainstorms this summer have not only led to canceled and delayed flights at the capital's airport, but also to many more disputes between frustrated passengers and airline staff members.

On Friday, the city witnessed the year's third torrential downpour, which by 4.30 pm had resulted in the cancellation of 160 flights and delays of 39.

During the previous two downpours, more than 200 flights were canceled and 150 others were delayed at Beijing Capital International Airport.

In addition, disputes caused by the disruptions to flight schedules increased dramatically compared with the same period last year, according to a public security officer working at the airport.

Police dealt with 253 disputes from June 1 to July 28, which represents a 166.3 percent year-on-year increase, Wan Changming, a spokesman for the airport's public security bureau, said at a news conference.

"Most of the conflicts involved stranded passengers, who became impatient or angry," he said.

"Many of them lost their tempers, although the police and workers from airline companies explained the situation to them. However, the airline companies' explanations didn't satisfy every passenger."

Yin Qiming, 32, a passenger who was stranded for about two hours at the airport on the evening of June 24 when his flight to Shanghai was delayed, echoed the spokesman's comments.

"I was very anxious and couldn't control my emotions while I was waiting," he said.

According to Wan, the passengers who lost their tempers indulged in wild behavior, including quarreling with airport staff members, forcing their way onto planes, blocking the doors to planes, refusing to leave first-class seats and destroying facilities at the airport.

On July 4, a flight landed at the airport after a 13-hour delay due to bad weather. Two passengers, surnamed Zhang and Li, encouraged other passengers to put pressure on the airline by refusing to get off the plane.

Four hours later, most passengers had agreed to get off to negotiate with the company, except Zhang and Li. Zhang even shouted in the engine room and hit the luggage compartment. The two men were eventually fined 200 yuan ($31) each, with Zhang also receiving a 5-day detention.

"People who assault or insult airport workers or interfere with the work of the police will be punished," the spokesman Wan said. "Passengers should protect their rights in reasonable ways."

In addition, the spokesman said passengers have been advised to follow the airport's micro blog to get the latest weather and flight information and to call the police if disputes occur.

Source: Xinhua
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