Chinese Airline Refuses To Let Depressed Passenger Travel

A Chinese budget airline has reportedly denied boarding to a passenger due to the traveler suffering from depression. Citing emotional instability, the airline would not let the woman take the October 13th flight from Weihai to Nanjing.

Spring Airlines A320
Spring Airlines China is a low-cost carrier operating service out of both Shanghai Pudong and Shanghai Hongqiao Airports. Photo: Aeroprints via Flickr 

‘Emotionally unstable’

According to Chinese media, the woman, Ms. Bi, was to board a flight departing from Weihai destined for Nanjing. Accompanied by her boyfriend, the incident took place on October 13th on Spring Airlines flight 9C8743.

Speaking with the Global Times, this is what a Spring Airlines spokesperson had to say:

“We made the regretful decision based on public safety concerns, as the medical condition of the passenger was not clear, they could not be calmed down emotionally and there was no medical advice on their situation,”

The airline also noted that the passenger’s hands were shaking furiously during the security check, with emotions escalating from there. When she was questioned about her medical history, her boyfriend became angry, shouting at the airline staff.

Ultimately, the airline claims that the decision not to let her board the plane stemmed from concerns about her emotional and mental state and not because she had depression.

Spring Airlines jet on ground
Spring Airlines is one of China’s largest privately-owned carriers. Photo: lasta29 via Flickr

Hand tremors caused by medication

Her boyfriend, known as Mr. Yu, explained on Chinese social media platform Weibo that his girlfriend’s medication was responsible for causing her hands to tremble. Identified as “Lithium Carbonate Sustained-Release Tablets,” the UK’s NHS website confirms that shaking of the hands is indeed a side-effect.

Expressing his frustration on social media, Mr. Yu accused gate agents of interrogating his girlfriend in front of other passengers, questioning how much authority airline staff have to review a passenger’s private medical conditions.

Spring airlines 737
Spring Airlines also has a Japanese subsidiary – making it the first airline in China to do this. Photo: Z3144228 via Wikimedia Commons 

Mr. Yu added that the couple’s travels on October 13th to Nanjing were taking them to a hospital appointment with a specialist. Instead, the two were forced to take the overnight train in order to make the appointment, with Yu claiming his girlfriend “cried all the way” there.

Denied boarding

We’ve seen boarding denied to passengers for a long list of reasons. These days the biggest news is boarding denial stemming from a refusal to wear a mask. However, erratic behavior is known to be a reason for denied boarding.

In this case, it’s possible that the presence of trembling hands led to a rapid escalation of tensions. Spotting the tremors, staff inquired about medical conditions. This led to an angry, shouting boyfriend, and, if this was the case, then it makes sense that the airline would say that the couple “could not be calmed down emotionally,” adding that the “medical condition of the passenger was not clear.”

According to The Independent, the airline said the couple had been refunded in full for the flights.

Do you think the airline was right to not let the passenger board the plane due to her behavior at the time? Do airline staff have the right to ask about medical conditions? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.