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United bullying passenger again: Chinese renowned tennis player’s boarding pass torn and racket bag snatched

(People's Daily Online)    07:23, June 09, 2017

A post on Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo of famous Chinese female tennis player Zhang Shuai sharing her terrible flight experience with United Airlines enroute from St. Petersburg to Dulles has gone viral online on June 8, 2017. It is known that the rude UA staff at the boarding gate snatched away Zhang’s tennis bag and “accidentally” torn her boarding pass. As a Premier 1K member of the airlines, the highest of the four tiers of UA frequent flyer program, Zhang has never thought about being treated like this. According to Zhang, she brought two carry-on bags, one racket bag and one backpack, with her as usual.

However, the UA staff at the gate somehow took out a small bag inside the racket bag and claimed that Zhang had brought 3 carry-on bags thus was not allowed to board.

After Zhang put the small bag back into the racket bag, the staff again stopped her and stated that her racket bag was too large for the carry-on standards. While after measurement, the racket bag was fully compliant with the standard carry-on size. This time, Zhang thought she could finally board and take a break.

It turned out that she was wrong. The staff opened Zhang’s racket bag and tried to add in as mush air as she could into the bag to make it bulge, so as to exceed the standard line. Then the staff grabbed Zhang’s passport and boarding pass, and forced Zhang to choose either to check her bag, or to wait for another flight. During the process of argument, Zhang’s boarding pass was “accidentally” torn by the UA staff.

What happened next was more astonishing. After Zhang agreed to check her racket bag and prepared to board, the staff again jumped out and unhurriedly counted Zhang’s rackets and bags one by one. She insisted that 5 tennis rackets accounted for 5 pieces of carry-ons, thus Zhang has a total of 7 carry-on bags, including Zhang’s backpack and the small bag which she just took out of the racket bag. Zhang had no choice but to find another empty bag to put all her five tennis rackets in.

“That is absolutely bullying. Rackets are the most important things to our tennis players. We all know that sometimes the airline may lose your check-in luggage, so we usually carry our rackets with us to avoid losing our customized rackets with unique balance point and weight. If we lost our rackets, we might lose the game,” said Zheng Jie, one of the most famous tennis players in China.

In fact, Zhang’s horrible experience is not a single case. Similar situations have happened before. A Kentucky doctor was forcibly dragged off from a UA flight after he refused to give up his seat to employees of the airline in April 2017. In Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey, there have been constant complaints about UA staff bullying and insulting Chinese passengers. The airlines’ revolting attitude and services towards passengers have since become news worldwide.

Many netizens in China have expressed their anger to this disreputable airlines. “It is undoubtedly United Airlines again. I have never heard any good news about them,” some said. Others were furious about the bias treatment the airlines have towards its loyal passengers. “I just can’t believe how she could be treated like this! She is already in the top tier of UA membership! I will probably never take the flight of UA again.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Liang Jun, Bianji)

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