Bizarre: China Eastern Fires Cabin Crew After Boyfriend Proposes During Flight

Filed Under: China Eastern

I can’t quite get my head around this one.

Last May (i.e. several months ago), a female China Eastern cabin crew member named Xiao Jiao was working a short, one hour domestic flight from Xi’an to Yinchuan.

The cabin crew member’s boyfriend of four years was on board, and 30 minutes into the flight got down on one knee and proposed to her in front of the plane.

Here is some video of the proposal:

You can hear the passengers clapping in the background after she says yes.

Seems like a romantic, fairly normal thing to do, right?

Well Chinese media is reporting that China Eastern has recently fired the cabin crew member, saying that:

the private romantic behaviour caused turmoil among passengers and was extremely irresponsible for the safety of passengers.

The decision has drawn a mixed reaction on social media in the traditionally conservative country of China, with some members of the public being in disbelief at how severe the punishment has been, while others felt a plane full of passengers was not the appropriate place for a cabin crew member to conduct a personal matter.

Bottom line

Odd things happen on Chinese airlines, but this is weird.

Most airlines would celebrate a romantic gesture like this and even use it to promote the airline and their crew on their social media channels. Okay, it was a very short flight, but it’s not like they took over the cockpit and got married on descent.

30 minutes into most hour long flights I have taken, the crew have completed the meal service and are taking a break and having a chat in the galley. What difference does it make if they are talking to each other about their rosters, or if their partners are talking to them, asking them to marry?

Where was the ‘turmoil among passengers?’ They were seated, calm and clapping?

Surely China Eastern would foresee the huge public relations damage firing this cabin crew member would have?

Have you ever witnessed a proposal on a flight? (Cabin crew or passengers?)

  1. With this in mind, one has to wonder if MU fires their smoking pilots 😉 IMO smoking is more serious than romance…

  2. Good. Keep your personal moments to yourself. Americans have a bizarre habit of cheering and encouraging this behavior in public. We need to boycott that Emmy guy who proposed at the emmys.

  3. @chub +1. Fire a FA because her boyfriend proposed to her. Turn a blind eye on pilots that smoke. Makes sense

  4. Whilst firing her is a bit harsh, after all she didn’t propose, he should be banned from all airlines for life! No one wants to see your proposal, keep it private.

    Proposing in public is not romantic it’s entrapment, who is going to say no in public!

  5. I’m from China.

    Chinese authorities asks for the stabilities most of the time. They would even give up economic/business growth if it is jeopardising its governance. That’s why it took so long to stop the banning of cellphone using on chinese aircrafts, because people in charge didn’t want trouble with that, even the probability is less than you were hit by the lightning, twice.

    Put yourselves into this shoe and you would understand the reason how it happened.

  6. This is what comes of having miserable old men in charge: completely out of touch with real life and , particularly true of China, hell bent on sticking to “the rules “. Pathetic old wankers, it’s they who should be shown the door.

  7. Just read a story on Quora about how China Eastern lied to a passenger that “Russians cannot land at (Seoul) Gimpo”. The agent then proceeded to tell her to go to Pu Dong (from Hongqiao). Naturally, everyone told her she was lied to. Then after she overheard a Korean woman say “overbooked”, it all clicked into place.

    TL;DR China Eastern overbooked and lied to a passenger and fed her BS

    Avoid China Eastern like the plague

  8. I refuse to fly any of these Chinese airlines – I don’t know why anyone would willingly torture themselves with flights on these awful airlines. Their only good contribution is their cheap fares and competition keep their competitors prices low. It really is amazing the chutzpah of this country to think how great they are when they are such bad hospitality and service – could learn a lot from their democratic neighbour Taiwan on a lot on many things, including how to run airlines..

  9. “The traditionally conservative country of China” is a bit of an odd description….wording makes me think more of say Saudia Arabia than say a rapidly evolving and dynamic place like China. While I get from an uninformed perspective what you’re going for, perhaps “conservative” is too ambiguous…

  10. The comments are overly harsh about Chinese airlines. I myself took a China Eastern breakfast flight this morning and was served a delicious and healthy bread roll. Not even a sandwich, just a dry piece of bread. With such superb catering I do wonder why people are so harsh about them!!!!

  11. Its everything about them that is a turn off. The terrible crude branding, awful interiors, dirty and unkempt maintenance indifferent and cold staff with poor language skills, terrible food, terrible hubs, smoking pilots – need I go on?

    Also I know Skytrax is not reliable judge of quality, but someone needs to really get a grip on the fake peer reviews from china that are posted on their site – especially for China Southern who seem to be complicit in trying to skew their customer fed ratings on there, as they seem to provide boarding passes to get their reviews verified…

  12. This doesn’t really surprise me. There are no FA unions in China so the airline management can pretty much do whatever they want. Either way, I do wish the couple the best and who knows? This may be a silver lining in disguise. I hope she can get another job with another airline or a foreign airline!

  13. @Debit

    How appropriate. We all here would love it if you kept your, “interesting”, personal thoughts to yourself.

  14. @Anqi: I think someone proposing is a lot less dangerous than smoking pilots – but your government isn’t bothered about that are they?

  15. @vlcnc

    As a Chinese, the reason why so many people will still fly Chinese Carriers is that they have not experienced good airlines with good service.

  16. @leo
    Still doesn’t give an excuse for the pilots to smoke

    I’m a chinese american, but I try to avoid flying (mainland) chinese airlines. For me, it’s worth it flying an extra couple of hours to HKG on Cathay and connect there to a mainland China city on DragonAir. Korean air through ICN is now also an option for me, with the Delta JV and that I can still credit KE flights to Alaska.

    In China domestically, I take the train unless there’s no other choice, then I fly the mainland chinese airlines.

  17. @leo: That is understandable and domestically there probably isn’t much choice. But why on would you when you have the choice internationally is my point?

  18. Earlier this year, I was on a Southwest flight from IAH to OAK where an off-duty flight attendant was not only proposed to, but got married right then and there- complete with a veil and a walk down the aisle. They even bought champagne for the entire flight. The pilot came on the intercom to congratulate the couple.

    Things like that are part of the reason why people like Southwest. Such a shame that these Chinese carriers don’t have the same attitude.

  19. As a Chinese American that still remains close to both cultures I see both sides. By cultural standards outside of China it seems harsh to fire the flight attendant, after all she was on the receiving end of the proposal. Everyone seemed happy yay! Happiness! Positive things on social media! This airline is such a buzz kill!

    But if you put yourselves in the higher ups’ shoes, consider Chinese culture and you will understand why. Chinese people are very into elaborate and crazy proposals (go find them on YouTube), and anything that generates buzz they will want to follow in hopes of gaining the same popularity. If this flight attendant doesn’t get fired, I can guarantee you flight attendants all over China will be get getting proposed daily by the hour.

    One flight attendant getting proposed is fine, but once it starts multiplying all over the country…you see where this is going?

  20. Just wondering, but could it be that Yinchuan is in the muslim province of Ningxia? I wonder if the public display of affection clashing with the religious ideals may have played a role on this one. Not saying it’s the right way to approach the situation, but there’s always another angle Westerners tend to ignore. Not everywhere in the world is happy and liberal

  21. I just hate how people relate this kind of thing to their prejudice about China. Bottom line, this is not quite professional, especially in China. Firing her is a bit too harsh? Maybe… At the end of the day, whether airline fires the flight attendant or not, it’s their decision.
    Universal value of western countries do not always have to apply in every country, do they?

  22. @Chris Chen: Don’t cry prejudice, China is repressive and abuses it’s citizens like no other – valid criticism of that is not prejudice. It is not because they are Chinese, in fact you fill find most people respect Taiwanese, Macauan and Hong Kong Chinese a great deal. You want respect, you earn it.

  23. @vlcnc: I am from China. I know how China is.

    How does that relate to a Chinese Airline? This thing happened is because of a different working/professional standard under a different culture.

    How convenient for you to stand on a moral high ground to relate an airline company’s behavior to a country. Your so-called criticism only makes you feel superior. It’s not childish, it’s just disgusting.

  24. @Chris Chen: It’s because of Chinese repression hence why this thing has happened – simple thats how it relates. I can’t image if this happened on Cathay Pacific or EVA Air their crew would be fired – as they wouldn’t on majority of the airlines in the world. In fact as Ben said in his post, it would probably be celebrated and used soft marketing through avenues such as social media…

  25. (Also you might know China, but you don’t know how the world is – I understand this might be because you have been fed the kool aid but it has nothing to do with cultural difference all to do with unfairness)

  26. @vlcnc: I want to say sorry your value just doesn’t represent the world. You think this all has something to do with how this country is governed. Normally I will laugh about when you say “repression”… But this time I will explain my opinion in a nicer way. I am sure some people will agree with me. Even on our social media the comments are mixed, and those mixed comments make sense when looking from different angle. As I commented above, I think they are too harsh to that poor flight attendent but it‘s a working culture thing. Since you talk about eva and Cathay, frankly I don’t know what would they do if this happens on their flight, but I want to you think about ANA and Japan Airline, I can assure you Japanese will do the same if that happens on their airlines.

    I am not trying to be a jerk. I know China has all kinds of problems (I might know more problems than you do), and it’s slowly changing. But don’t try to relate everything with politics. I lived in the US more than a few years now. I know in many countries people likes to relate these kind of things with China’s political environment, don’t know why but it seems to make people satisfy. Personally I don’t see this has anything to do with how bad people are treated generally.

    Working standard is kind of strict in some of the east Asian countries. I don’t expect you to understand this.

    By the way I am not “cry” prejudice, I am just so tired of seeing people commenting things irrespnsively. Citicising is not a problem. But maybe get to know China and the people in China before criticising. That will make you a wiser man.

  27. I do not 100% agree with the firing BUT, we live in a world where everyone feels the need to interrupt everyone else’s day with their “personal lives”…intrusions. Very much an American epidemic spreading across the world.

    Im happy for any couple getting engaged, but do it on your own time. Imagine a passenger that just got dumped by their partner, divorced, spouse had died…and they have to sit and witness this!. No one thinks about others anymore. Just selfish selfish voyeuristic behaviour. No different than that person (not sure if it was a guy or gal) that proposed at the Emmy’s…again, inappropriate!

    Sorry, but not everyone is interested in your life!! I would NEVER intrude in other people’s personal space…but Americans have no issue with this whatsoever. If you sit next to someone on a plane, they loooooove to run their mouths nonstop. My energy is magnetic (no, not what you think) so I know it gives off the sign that I’m up for conversation….us Brits are usually not that much with strangers. At any gym in NYC, LA, Denver, Miami etc….people indicate they wish to chat and that’s very kind, but Im in my own personal world of working out and (shock horror Americans) Minding my own business!!!!!.

    I know Murikans will disagree with the above, and that’s fine.

  28. Certainly, firing the flight attendant was way too harsh however I agree that the proposal while on duty was a bad idea and she should have been disciplined in a minor way. The airline should find another way to get the word out that these personal moments are not permitted other than to fire the crew member. I feel very sorry for this poor girl.

    Frankly, I don’t care to be a hostage witness to other people’s personal moments while I’m flying. I find it awkward to say the least.

  29. @Chris Chen: it’s obvious you are brainwashed into thinking your way and I am sure you are part of the privileged few for who things like rights don’t matter.

    I am not sure what you mean by talking irresponsibly, but when you have little rights like this poor flight attendant in this situation – then I am afraid it is all political. What would be irresponsible is not calling out the unfairness and how unjust it is. Don’t be under any illusion that people approve of the Chinese regime just because they hypocritically tolerate it for the purposes of trade.

  30. “Imagine a passenger that just got dumped by their partner, divorced, spouse had died…and they have to sit and witness this!. No one thinks about others anymore. Just selfish selfish voyeuristic behaviour.”

    (The above is really laughable by the way as reason for her punishment lol)

  31. @vlcnc: Suit yourself. Can’t talk sense to people like you. I hope you find yourself always enjoying being superior to other people.

  32. @Chris Chen: I have actually been very reasonable in answering your points.

    This is not a proportional response to what happened whatever way you look at. She might have not even known he was proposing as it was clearly meant as a surprise so to lose her job over this is ridiculous. And to those saying they find public pronouncements like this distasteful, that is fine, it’s not what I necessarily would choose to do either but that doesn’t mean others might want to and it is certainly not a reason for firing.

  33. Another reason as if I needed one! not to fly this airline. These Chinese management types have no sense of humor need to lighten up a bit. Actually a lot. Get the hair out of their a…..s!

  34. Jordan don’t flatter yourself. Most Americans I know aren’t all that interested in chatting with some random butter-toothed Brit!

  35. Nice comeback Dave! Jordan what a pity. Quite sure you don’t have a lot of friends with your nose in the air attitude. You give Brits a bad name.

  36. @vlcnc: I just found this interesting story.

    It was about a Air China pilot who wanted to surprise his wife, a cabin manager from Air China as well, on her last flight but didn’t make it anyway. He said he wanted to apply secretly to fly her last flight without letting her know and he also prepared a very romantic and touching speech. He would also prepared a bunch of flower and he was pretty sure all the passengers on board would gave their applause as well as their blessing to the cabin manager.


    He said he didn’t do that. PEK-CTU is roughly a 2h30min domestic flight. I don’t think there wasn’t enough time. Actually, he wrote down the reason: “Flying is a very strict job. There’s no room for romance, nor husband or wife. We have do better as a pilot and a cabin manager.”

    At last, he gave the flower and his hug to her at home instead.

    So this is the story. I don’t think there’s right or wrong in both of these stories, only preference. I don’t like how these two stories ended at all but I think no one did anything wrong. I’m trying to say that one has to understand the culture behind if s/he wants to make a fair assessment. If you understand most of the senior staff in China do not appreciate the romantic story (and you can’t blame them for that, can you?), no matter their seats are in the cockpit, the cabin or a ground office, you will see this doesn’t concern with FA union, even there is one.

  37. i’d like to share my 2 cents on this topic. for someone who has worked for a chinese airline at an overseas port, i’ve known alot of inside stories. do chinese pilot smoke in the cockpit? yes, they do. 9 out of 10 flights you can smell the cigarette smells and that happens on all i mean all chinese carriers. the first thing csm/purser do is to make a paper cup ashtray with wet tissues in it for the pilots. it is known by everyone in the industry, but who says anything? no one, why? afraid of loosing their jobs. how do they choose crew? well, majority of cabin crew are related to who works at high level management, government, local business, military. they sent their sons, daughters to an airline for free travel and seeing the world. service standards? yes, they are suppose to be trained in a professional way, they use standards of thai airways as their example. now back to the topic, firing someone is quite common in chinese airline industry. the purse on ben’s cz flight fron lax to can in first lost her job as purser and demoted to junior crew with no promotion allowed, i think she has left the guangzhou base and to a minor cz base. the girl works in the mu lounge where ben was flying to sri lanka has been demoted and is now working at checkin. jealosy could be another case by her peers. whatever the reason is, this has happened.

  38. @Anqi: I am assuming you posted that without any any irony? You really think this is unprofessional and a sacking offence? Most of the world thinks you are ridiculous. Especially when you’re pilots flout rules that actually make your passengers unsafe. It also show your country up for the brutal and unforgiving country it is, lacking any kind of humanity.

  39. @vlcnc

    There’re facts and there’re thoughts. I said “I don’t like how these two stories ended” and I think I’ve made my point clear.

    I can tell from the very begining that you don’t like China, which is totally fine. I respect that and I don’t want to change a little bit.

    I posted because I thought I, as a Chinese passenger, maybe knew a little more from inside this country. And I would like to share with you (all) that why I felt “no wonder how this FA got fired”. Again, I don’t like that but I’m not surprised.

  40. @Anqi: You are wasting your time with him. He probably has nothing to do but go on this blog and attack every Chinese who try to express their feelings about this. Unfortunately, we respect different opinions but some loser is enjoying using this story to attack others. How pathetic.

  41. @Anqi: You are wasting your time with him. He tries to attack everyone (or shall I say Chinese) that has different thoughts than him. Things that he disagrees is considered “Brain-washed”. Apparently, loser like him probably has nothing to do but attacking others online. How pathetic…

    To all who are reading this blog, I am also surprised and disappointed that how people try to force others to accept their thoughts and use extreme words when they find there is disagreement, especially here, where most of the audiences are world travelers and aviation enthusiasts. I don’t expect people to respect the Chinese government and Chinese airline companies because sometime we feel angry and frustrated no less than other people do, but maybe show a bit of respect for us.

    This will be the last of my post on this blog.

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