China to punish tourists in Thai air rage assault

BEIJING (AP) — Chinese authorities vowed to severely punish Chinese travelers who threw hot water and noodles on a Thai flight attendant and threatened to bomb the plane after they became enraged over sitting arrangements.

China National Tourism Administration said Saturday the tourists disrupted the flight, hurt other passengers and “badly damaged the overall image of the Chinese people.” It comes at a time when the Chinese are traveling more but also becoming notorious for rough behavior.

A Chinese passenger berated a crew member of the budget airline Thai AirAsia before pouring hot water and throwing noodles at her during a charter flight to Nanjing last Thursday. The flight returned to Bangkok and the pilot asked the passenger and her entourage of three others to disembark. They were reportedly upset after being told they couldn’t sit together and even after a flight attendant helped them change the seats.

In footage aired by China’s state television CCTV, a male passenger loudly threatened to bomb the plane. He later said the attendant was scalded by accident during a tussle over a receipt they had requested for the hot water.

After the plane turned back, the captain and the crew invited the passenger to discuss the situation and reached “an amicable conclusion,” Thai AirAsia said.

The Chinese tourism administration did not say what punishment the tourists could face, but the statement suggested that the travel agency that organized the trip could be punished for failing to offer proper behavior guidance and that the tourists should be blacklisted for bad credit.

Many in China reacted saying they were embarrassed by such behavior. Even Chinese President Xi Jinping, during a recent visit to the Maldives, urged the Chinese tourists to be more civilized by not throwing away plastic bottles or destroying coral reefs.

More than 100 million Chinese have traveled overseas this year, more than any other country.