The Odd Side – January 13, 2015

China Travelers Open Emergency Exits to Protest Flight Delay

BEIJING (AP) — Upset by a delayed flight, at least two Chinese passengers decided to open emergency exit doors in protest as the plane was taxiing, forcing it to abort takeoff and landing them in jail instead, police said Sunday.

The latest in a growing number of air rage cases involving Chinese travelers happened early Saturday morning in the southwestern city of Chengdu, after the China Eastern flight was delayed by a snow storm.

Angry passengers complained about the delay and a lack of ventilation, and a man surnamed Zhou opened three emergency exits to prevent the plane from taking off, forcing it to return to the gate. A total of 25 passengers were held for questioning while the rest continued on to Beijing aboard a separate flight.

Kunming police said in an online statement that Zhou and a tour guide named Li have been placed under 15-day “administrative detention” for opening the doors and inciting passengers with false information.

The plane’s ventilation system had been turned off for 30 minutes during de-icing work to prevent fumes from entering the cabin, China Eastern maintenance engineer Zhu Yun told Chinese media. Although the co-pilot had been dispatched to explain, passengers remained irate even after the plane left the gate, reports said.

“Opening those doors was extremely dangerous because there was nothing to protect passengers from the force of the engines,” Zhu said.

China’s fast growing air travel market is the world’s second biggest, but heavy traffic and tight military control of airspace have given it the world’s worst record for flight delays.

Cancellations, delays and service complaints spark frequent incidents of air rage at airports and aboard flights, including those to and from foreign destinations. Brawls between passengers and attacks on crew are often filmed and posted online.

The names of all those found to have been involved would be placed on a “national uncivilized traveler record,” to be distributed to travel related businesses around the country, administration spokesman Zhang Jilin said in a statement. Names can remain on such lists for up to 18 months, during which travel agencies can decide whether or not to accept listed travelers.

Zhang said travel agencies were responsible for informing their clients about acceptable behavior.

Ice Storm, Treacherous Roads Keep Hawai’i Summit Closed

HILO, Hawai’i (AP) — When snow falls on the summit of Mauna Kea on Hawai’i’s Big Island, it usually means a rare opportunity for Hawai’i residents to build snowmen and have snowball fights.

But the latest storm isn’t providing any winter frolicking on the 12,796-foot summit.

An ice storm has kept the summit inaccessible for more than a week, the longest known period the area has been closed because of winter weather.

Office of Mauna Kea Management Director Stephanie Nagata tells the Hawaii Tribune-Herald that it’s just a “sea of ice up there.”

The ice melts during the day but refreezes when cold winds come later in the day and at night.

It’s caused treacherous conditions on roads and parking lots, and portable toilets are crusted in ice.

Bobcat Trapped in Car Grille to Return to Arizona Forest

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — An Arizona bobcat that survived getting stuck inside an oncoming car is going back into the wild.

Arizona Game and Fish Department officials say the bobcat will be released Friday into Tonto National Forest after being rescued a week ago.

A couple driving in Scottsdale on Jan. 2 hit the animal after it darted into their path.

Upon reaching their destination, the man inspected his Mazda sedan and saw the very much alive bobcat trapped in the plastic grille.

Game and Fish employees sedated the 7-pound animal and removed it.

The bobcat has spent the past week at the Southwest Wildlife Rehabilitation Center in Scottsdale, where it was evaluated by a veterinarian.

Game and Fish officials called the bobcat’s survival without any major injuries a miracle.

Swiss Clamp Down on Cross-Border Pizza Delivery

ZURICH (Reuters) – Switzerland’s frugal pizza lovers have had their hopes dashed for a special rule that would have allowed them to keep ordering cheaper pizza delivery from neighboring Germany.

Around a year ago the Swiss customs administration scrapped an exception that, in some circumstances, allowed food delivery like pizza into Switzerland without having to pass through customs.

The previous system had prompted businesses across the border to offer deals targeting Swiss customers, a spokesman for the customs office said.

The strong Swiss franc has prompted Swiss bargain hunters to cross the border in search of cheaper goods in neighboring Germany and France.

The Chamber of Industry and Commerce (IHK) for Hochrhein-Bodensee, a German region that borders Switzerland, had lobbied for an exception in the case of pizza delivery, but the Swiss customs administration has decided against such a move for the time being.

“IHK Hochrhein-Bodensee is disappointed with this information and will, in the interests of our member companies, continue to work to find a solution,” the industry body’s Chief Executive Uwe Boehm said in a statement.