29th May 2023 – (Hong Kong) The Hong Kong aviation industry is facing a tumultuous period as a video recently surfaced online of a passenger on a Hong Kong Airlines flight being taken away by police for smoking an e-cigarette on the plane. This comes after a recent incident involving Cathay Pacific, in which three flight attendants were fired for allegedly discriminating against non-English speaking passengers. The incident has sparked widespread criticism from netizens, with many calling for the passenger to be fined and blacklisted.
The 22-second video shows a Putonghua-speaking passenger being taken away by police while arguing with them. The police officer’s uniform, arm badge, and back pocket with the word “police” on it suggest that the incident occurred in mainland China. It is estimated that the passenger smoked the e-cigarette either mid-flight or after landing.
The incident has attracted widespread condemnation, with netizens criticising the passenger’s behaviour. Comments such as “smoking has been banned for 27 years, why would anyone do this on a plane?” and “I’m a smoker myself, but I know that smoking on a plane is a big deal. If you can’t resist the urge, you should be prepared to face the consequences” were common.
Under the Aviation Security Ordinance, it is a criminal offence to smoke on an airplane or in any compartment of the airplane. This is regardless of the country or region in which the plane is registered. Additionally, it is a criminal offence to smoke when instructed not to do so by a member of the flight crew.
The incident is the latest in a series of controversies facing the Hong Kong aviation industry. In the case of Cathay Pacific, the airline was accused of discriminating against non-English speaking passengers and was forced to fire three of its flight attendants. The incident sparked a heated debate on social media and raised questions about the airline’s customer service and training practices.