Pilot & Flight Attendant Get Into Fight, Leading To Broken Arm & Missing Tooth (Update)

Filed Under: Other Airlines

While we’ve heard stories occasionally over the years of fights between airline crew members, last week I wrote about a story that was on a completely different level. There’s now an update, as Chinese authorities have taken action against the airline for the incident.

Pilot & flight attendant fight on Donghai Airlines

The South China Morning Post reported on a rather shocking situation that unfolded on a Donghai Airlines flight. Specifically, this happened on DZ6297, the February 20 flight from Nantong to Xian. This ~730 mile flight was operated by a Boeing 737-800. Long story short, there was an assault that left a flight attendant with a broken arm and a pilot with a missing tooth.

So, what happened? According to reports, the pilot had to use the bathroom during the flight. He noticed a first class passenger near the cockpit who also wanted to use the lavatory, and he asked the passenger to wait at their seat. The passenger ignored the pilot’s instructions, and when the pilot emerged from the lavatory he still saw the passenger standing there.

At this point the pilot confronted the flight attendant responsible for the first class cabin cabin, accusing him of “not doing his job properly and affecting flying safety.” An argument soon got out of control and became physical. The fight was allegedly initiated by the pilot, and this resulted in the flight attendant’s arm being broken, and the pilot losing a tooth.

Chinese authorities punish airline & employees

A bit over a week ago the airline publicly responded to this incident, as the story went viral on Weibo. At the time Donghai Airlines issued the following statement, confirming the assault, and stating that both employees were suspended:

“The company attached high importance to the argument among the crew members during flight and conducted a strict internal verification. Those staff members involved have been suspended their job to ensure flight safety.”

While that’s the action the airline took, Reuters reports that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has also taken action following an investigation.

  • Donghai Airlines is being punished by not being allowed to add any new routes, flights, or capacity; it’s not known how long this policy will remain in place
  • The pilot involved in the incident will have his license revoked
  • The flight attendant will receive a “corresponding administrative punishment”

Interestingly in China this is a pretty standard punishment for airlines — if something goes wrong, they’re prevented from adding flights.

Bottom line

A fight between a pilot and flight attendant on a recent Donghai Airlines flight escalated to the point that there was a broken arm and missing tooth. The unprofessionalism here is just staggering, and I can’t even imagine what this must have been like for those who witnessed this situation.

While the airline had initially suspended both employees, the CAAC has taken action as well — Donghai Airlines is now prevented from expanding, the pilot has had his license revoked, and the flight attendant has also had action taken against him.

What do you make of this incident, and of the CAAC’s punishment?

  1. First of all, wow, the pilot comes across as an entitled little Napoleon. Second, this seems more like Gary’s kinda story. At least you didn’t post the video.

    The appropriate course of action is obvious. Give the pilot and flight attendant slaps on the wrist, but ban the passenger for life. 😉

  2. the reason pilot was angry because passenger is not allowed to be near the door while pilot is in lavatory; this increases the risk of hijacking. As an aviation geek, I thought you knew that.

  3. @lu
    Clearly there was no pilot hood over his head abduction attempt. Therefore the pilot should have done the professional approach to discipline a colleague. He is essentially the manager so he should have known how to deescalate not inflame.

    My guess is that someone slept with someone else’s spouse. :b
    Just the kind of trash distraction I needed on a Monday.

  4. I don’t know the lav policy in China, but if it’s similar to the ones in the US. I could see why the pilots got p off. Still, that’s why too dramatic.

  5. I’ve flown lots of Chinese airlines out of lots of nice Chinese airports. All of them were good experiences, with near-new equipment and extremely professional flight attendants and staff. It’s pretty sad to watch this generation of racists try to rationalize their racism: you see it in the comments section of almost every article that touches China.

    If you’re generalizing about an entire people or place based on specifics, might be time to take a hard look in the mirror.

  6. I assumed being a Chinese airline the pilot wanted to smoke in the lavatory, and didn’t want a passenger right near the door.

  7. @glenn t: would love to hear why your justification for flying US carriers then based on all the crap that has happened on them in the last year alone. I am sure there is a Capitol to storm somewhere Proud Boy.

  8. I don’t think I’m racist in saying I avoid US and China airlines equally (and Air Canada as well, but much harder to avoid it living in Canada). The only difference is US airlines are on the decline, while for all of China’s faults, they’ve come a long way in improving their products.

  9. @glenn right, American pilots or cabin crews rather call the cops and have them beating up passengers OR throw [email protected] slurs at passengers who don’t fit your white privilege stereotypes

  10. It appears that CAAC has stepped into the investigation. I bet both crew members will end up losing their licenses.

  11. @glenn your comment is the dumbest I must say. Get out of your bedroom and fly more if you can even afford it. LOL!

    I would certainly pick a Chinese Airline to fly instead of any US airline if I were given the two choices only. US airlines is well known providing horrible service and dated aircrafts.

  12. It’s nice to see a pilot not taking the side of the cabin crew for once. Blind faith and trust is why the police are the way they are. It sickens me when pilots automatically trust flight attendants over passengers. It is widely known flight attendants routinely abuse their role as guardians of safety to get away with poor service by threatening passengers.

  13. If I am waiting for the toilet and a pilot emerges to use it, I always let him (or her) go first. I want the pilot back in the cockpit as soon as possible and figure their time is worth more than mine.

  14. @John the passenger did not try to go first, rather was waiting beside the toilet, while the pilot wanted him to wait in seat.

  15. Domestic Chinese airlinestaff generally are poorly trained , Chinese International airlines are better.

  16. When smaller private Chinese airlines can only take the leftover of state airline human resources……

  17. Let’s make a distinction between ethnic Chinese and citizens of mainland China. There are millions of ethnic Chinese in Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Europe who are perfectly civilised, reasonable, good-looking people with whom you’d be delighted to share your next flight. What these people have in common is that they are not citizens of the People’s Republic.

    The unfortunate reality of mainland China’s explosive economic growth is that the vast majority of its citizens who can afford to fly—and even many of those who fly in a professional capacity—are less than a generation removed from isolated agrarian lives spent knee-deep in pig shìt, being treated little better than said excreta, and treating others likewise. They have no idea how civilised people behave, to the extent that even the impossibly narcissistic PRC government acknowledges that its tourists abroad need remedial training in behavioural norms.

    Of course I realise that educated, urbane citizens of China do exist. They won’t go to public spaces like zoos, museums, or concerts because every single one of them deplores the invasion of the shìt-kickers. Ask me how I know.

  18. @Ray

    Surely you have your own reasons not to fly certain airlines.

    This was highly unprofessional for a pilot and airline employee to act in that manner.

    If @glenn t wants to conclude that is why he never wants to fly a Chinese airline then that is understandable.

    Don’t you have a US city to burn down and loot ?
    Agree with me or you’re a racist.

  19. @Vaffangol completely agree. Western tourists in singapore for example are uncivilized. They do graffiti and when getting punished like public caning you people claim human rights violations. I’m glad mainland China and ccp is copying singapore PAP as a model government and not western democracies BS…

  20. @glenn t
    Lol really? You use one incident to not fly chinese airlines? If that’s the case, there are million reasons not to fly any airline. Drunk american pilots? United bumping people forcibly on paid confirmed ticket? How about poo on delta seats? Or how about european airlines that go on strike ruining your holiday schedule? Or dutch crew reserving lav for themselves only? They’re unprofessional to passengers not each other! I’m surprised you fly at all. Stay grounded please.

  21. @Vaffangool While you’re at us, maybe you can tell us about all of the good Jews that didn’t stab Germany in the back during WWI, or the fine black folks you know who aren’t, you know, too uppity about things. Why, maybe even some of your best friends are Chinese, the sort of “perfectly civilised, reasonable, good-looking” people that you can bear to be around.

    Having traveled all over mainland in 25 trips to China during the last ten years, I find your comment pretty silly. That’s the nice way to put it. Less nice is to point out that it’s stupid, uninformed, and offensively bigoted. If you’re generalizing about every citizen of an entire country (as you do in your first paragraph), or talking about how “civilised people behave” (as you do in the second), then the concession that there exist a few “educated urbane citizens” of a country consisting of 1.4 billion folks rings pretty hollow.

    Anti-Asian and anti-Chinese sentiments are embedded pretty deeply in Western societies, and you’ll find lots of people who agree with you. You’ve inherited a lot of history and cultural baggage. The fact that you find people who share this bigotry doesn’t mean your feelings are correct, ethical, or healthy.

    I encourage you to learn 100 Chinese characters, take an HSK1 Chinese course, and then spend 10 days Couchsurfing with different hosts in Shanghai. Then take the high-speed train to Nanjing, Qingdao, Tai’an, and Beijing. If you visit in winter, see the spectacular annual snow and ice festival in Harbin, which has a heavy Russian influence. If you like hiking, visit Zhangjiajie (which inspired the landscapes of James Cameron’s _Avatar_), or spend three days hiking through Tiger Leaping Gorge in China’s wild, unpopulated West, or maybe go to Jiuzhaigou, which appeared in the movie _Hero_.

    If you manage to interact meaningfully interact with any Mainland Chinese during this time, I suspect your opinions and perceptions may change. That doesn’t mean you have to like the CCP — many Mainland Chinese people don’t either. But at minimum you will find among many Chinese the refined manners, smashing good looks, rarified tastes, and fine educations that you seem to hold in such high esteem.

  22. @Kendor – Don’t bother educating someone who has zero cultural sensitivity. Arrogance can hardly be cured by a post on the Internet.

  23. @Kendor

    Your first comment immediately calls out racism.

    Ben’s post was just a report on something that happened.

    There certainly are lots of ridiculous/racist comments following including yours and the hilrious one by @jkjkjk

    Perhaps this is not the best forum.

  24. @Azamaraal

    Perhaps you may take a further look at who starts the first racial discussion, or maybe you are selectively blind?

  25. Bigots need feedback, and even enlightened educated people harbor unintentionally bigoted points of view that should be called out. I’ve surely been guilty of this in my life. I’ll change no one’s mind today, but eventually people’s collective feedback has a way of adding up. Hopefully

  26. I would not let anecdotes of one such incident discourage me from flying any particular airline. When my actual experience has been unsatisfactory I don’t fly those airlines again. I would not expect this to be reoccurring but, rather individuals out of control. Maybe they had been drinking or had a history of disagreement. Being banished from the air sounds like a good start.

  27. It would appear that everybody WAS Kung Fu fighting. I bet those cats were fast as lighting. For the passengers, it must have been a little bit frightening. No doubt, they fought with expert timing.

  28. @ Azamaraal
    Prove me wrong. Did western men (multiple times) did or did not come to Singapore (where there are civilized chinese people according to Vaffangool) and spray painted the metro there and when they’re punished, your western government, is trying so hard to repatriate them despite breaking local laws like graffiti? How about dealing drugs? Most of Asia are free of hardcore drugs, yet you people try to smuggle them in and we knew what happened hundred years ago, the british monarch and east indies company force legalization of opium to benefit themselves… civilized? The most savage people I’ve seen in the most recently is white americans. Does this mean all americans are savage? No! Just some. Me? Racist? Lol

  29. @Kendor I love your comment. Indeed do not give up. I totally share your view and I certainly do not see or feel any racism in it. Our education, origin and whatever we went through is never enough to open our mind in a way that we make no mistake.

    In the last 6 years I traveled quite a lot to China. Deep inside but also the big cities as well as Harbin (I indeed recommend too). People were fantastic. Apps to translate were great as very few speak any English or any other Western languages. I felt safe everywhere. Actually better than in many places on our planet 😀

    Trains (even night trains), buses, public transportations in the cities. Safe and great experiences. People naturally interacting with me despite obvious language barrier. Friendly.

    Flight experience? local airlines were absolutely great. Excellent service. Good food on short 2 hours trips. Much better than in the US or in Europe. No doubt at all about that.

    Now yes they can and will be loud and I definitely prefer the delicate and raffinate Japanese way of doing things and interacting. But it is doing no justice to them and to others reading poor uneducated comments to reduce them all to some terribly wrong biased clichés. Pathetically shocking. Sorry.

  30. @jkkjkjk

    I lived and worked in Singapore for two years (in Singaporean housing, not a western mansion). I thoroughly loved my time there and often find myself humming Majula Singapora.

    However I cannot agree with you that all of the problems in Singapore with drugs and vandalism are due to foreign western devils.

    I can agree that bubble gum and street spitting are local problems.

    I found that racism does exist in Singapore and the worst I experienced was the attitude of Singaporeans towards Malaysians.

    If you live in Singapore enjoy life and all it he nice things about Singapore. Stay out of the back streets.

  31. @Turkfresser

    The Ben I referred to (who was not racist) was Lucky (Ben) just writing this article. I see that another Ben commented. Perhaps you misunderstood my reference and for that I apologize,

  32. @Kendor

    The first post I read above that was racist was this one:
    Kendor says:
    March 8, 2021 at 6:40 pm

    I’ve flown lots of Chinese airlines out of lots of nice Chinese airports. All of them were good experiences, with near-new equipment and extremely professional flight attendants and staff. It’s pretty sad to watch this generation of racists try to rationalize their racism: you see it in the comments section of almost every article that touches China.

    If you’re generalizing about an entire people or place based on specifics, might be time to take a hard look in the mirror.

    I have travelled by road in the US from Seattle to Bangor Main to New Orleans to Huston to San Diego to Seattle. I have crossed the US at least 5 times via the north, the south and the middle. I have driven as far south as Cabo San Lucas and also as far north as Alaska.

    Universally I find Americans to be friendly, helpful and fun people (with the exception of the time I got lost in a ghetto in Detroit in 1970 looking for gas where a helpful person told me I was in grave danger and should get my white bottom out of there).

    But internationally American tourists have a a bad reputation. The common phrase is “the Ugly American”.

    I have travelled to China many times since living in Singapore and our most recent visit was in the fall of 2019 for over three weeks in Shanghai, Yichang, Chongqing, and Shenzen (we have a 10 year visa). We thought it was one of our best travel experiences in years and plan to return when the health concerns are over and travel is reestablished. Universally I found the Chinese to be friendly, helpful and fun people.

    But internationally Chinese tourists have a a bad reputation. This has even been mentioned by their own government. Most of the comments I heard in places like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa is that the Chinese tourists tend to travel in a totally organized tour, controlled by a local Chinese tour company, staying in Chinese owned facilities etc. and thus never seem to mix with the residents of the countries they are visiting. So probably some of the resentment is economic?

    So the basic question – “is this racist”?

    (As an aside – I grew up in a Vancouver which, as of 2016, was 48% of European ethnicity. The remaining 52% was mainly Asian and South Asian. Consider myself totally ‘colour blind’).

  33. @Azamaraal Vancouver is a beautiful city. I lived for 30+ years in Seattle, and when we were poor we would go up to Vancouver for our “exotic international vacation.” I ate at Le Crocodile with my future wife on Robson the first time in 1997. I’ve run the Vancouver Marathon four or five times and rode my bicycle from Seattle to Vancouver at least five times. At the end of the two-day, 200-mile ride, the green glass towers of Vancouver’s peninsula gleamed like Oz. I dream of going back.

    That all said, I’m genuinely curious what aspect of my positive experiences at Chinese airports and my comments about anti-Chinese racism make me somehow racist.

    You describe bad experiences with Chinese tour groups. I think what your saying is that tour groups suck. Agreed 100%, no matter what the nationality.

    We’ve had four Chinese people come stay with us in coastal SoCal without the tour group in tow, and low and behold we’ve invariably had lovely experiences. Set and setting matters.

  34. @Azamaraal
    Are you Malay descent? No. Singapore uses majulah singapura as anthem and have female malay president rn.

    Also, I was exaggerating that problem to prove a point. A white men claimed that there are chinese outside mainland like singapore that’s civil.
    I said I agree. In Singapore the uncivil ones are usually angmoh. Do you see singaporean spray paint an MRT? I’m just glad that Singaporean PAP is the model government for CCP.

  35. @jkjkjk

    You must be very young, or not Singaporean. Every night when TV closed in the mid 80’s the National Anthem was sung and towards the end was always “Majulah Singapora, Majulah Singapora”. I will never forget it and used to be able to sing it alone.

    Singapore had just separated from Malaysia and was a blend of Chinese and Malay. Perhaps things have changed but they used to claim to be the country with the most religious holidays in the world as they celebrated almost every major religions holiday.

    I might check with my Singaporean friends to see if my memory is faulty. I hope not.

  36. @Kendor
    You can continue to insist that my distaste for the prevailing culture of contemporary mainland China is racial bias, but that’s just not going to make it true. Three out of the last four weeks I’ve been in downtown Atlanta protesting state voter disenfranchisement efforts and demonstrating against anti-Asian violence.

    I am totally comfortable revealing my deep antipathy toward the prevailing culture of the Republican South, does that make me racist against white folk? If I say I’m okay with the people of limited enclaves like Austin, Atlanta, Miami, Nashville, and Birmingham, but generally despise the attitudes of Alabama-, Mississippi-, Georgia- Louisiana- and Floriduhh shìtkickers, does that make me an equivocator?

    If you’re as progressive and as well-travelled as you seem, I would imagine there were times between 2016 and 2020 when you felt ashamed and apologetic that American voters put Trump into office, just like cultured and well-educated mainland Chinese are ashamed of the behaviour of their nouveau-middle class in their hundreds of millions.

    If it’s elitist to say that half of Americans are total shìtbags and deplorables, I’m fine with that. If it’s elitist to align myself with the urbane mainland Chinese who complain that the colossal majority of their countrymen have no idea how to behave in public, I’m okay with that, too. Racist? Not even close.

  37. @Jkjkjk
    Ethnic Han call both countries home, but drawing further comparisons between Singapore and mainland China does you no favours.

    Singapore is wealthy, clean, safe, and civilised. One thing the two countries have in common is their poor human rights records, particularly vis-à-vis mistreatment of ethnic minorities.

    You’ll get no argument from me that half of American travellers are savages. The other half sends Singapore our apologies.

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