Passengers stranded at Kunming airport due to a rainstorm, scuffled with security guards after their demands for information on rescheduled flights were not met.
Passengers stranded at Kunming airport scuffled with security guards after their demands for information were not met. [news.QQ.com]
The 170 passengers were due to leave Kunming, Yunnan province, on China Southern flights for Changsha, Wuhan and Guiyang on Monday evening, when all three flights were grounded due to the rainstorm.
Most of the passengers had to spend a chilly night either on the aircraft or in the terminal. They said China Southern failed to provide them meals or proper accommodation.
Only 30 passengers were accommodated at a local hotel because it was solidly booked.
Flights of two other airlines - China Eastern and United Eagle - were also grounded at Kunming.
"But they made quick arrangements for passengers to be accommodated at hotels and were told flights would resume the following day," Huang Yingjun, a passenger from Changsha, said.
China Southern passengers gathered at the terminal at 8 am yesterday to demand an apology from the airline and provide exact times for the rescheduled flights, Xinhua News Agency said.
Only one China Southern employee was at the airport to help the passengers. When he was unable to answer their queries, a scuffle broke out with the security guards.
Some computers, tables and chairs were smashed in the melee, Xinhua said.
By noon, most passengers agreed to leave either on China Southern flights with a compensation of 100 yuan ($14.70) each, or on other flights without compensation, the duty manager of China Southern's Kunming branch, surnamed Ai, said.
However, more than 40 passengers from Hunan province did not leave until late afternoon after the airline agreed to pay them 400 yuan each in compensation, a passenger, Huang Yingjun, said.
The headquarters of China Southern Airlines was not available for comment yesterday.
A survey last year by the consumer's affairs center of the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) showed that the major complaint of passengers was insufficient information on delayed flights.
A spokeswoman with the CAAC said the administration has been urging airlines to improve their services to better protect consumers' rights.
In 2006, the CAAC released a document targeting increasingly serious flight delays at the Beijing Capital International Airport.
It said airlines should provide free meals to passengers if flights are delayed for two hours, transfer passengers to other flights or provide places for passengers to rest if flights are delayed for four hours or more.
(China Daily July 30, 2008)