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Flight crew tackles woman who ‘deliberately coughed on staff,’ sparking panic

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Dramatic video footage showed an airline scuffle as the cabin crew physically confronted an airline passenger who allegedly coughed on staff on purpose.

The incident, captured on an unverified video, allegedly occurred during a Thai Airways flight in Shanghai last week as a female passenger sparked a panic amid escalating tensions over the coronavirus crisis.


(Source: Fugu M/YouTube)

YouTube user Fugu M posted the video Saturday, pointing to the “bureaucratic, dysfunctional mess” of tighter coronavirus screenings which had led to the plane being left sitting at the gate of the city’s Pudong International Airport for more than seven hours.

One passenger apparently reached a breaking point and, according to Fugu M, deliberately coughed on a member of the flight team in order to get off the plane.

“One Chinese woman went stir crazy on a Thai Airways flight and deliberately coughed on a female flight attendant to try to pressure staff to open the doors and let her out,” the YouTube user wrote.

“Senior male flight attendant was having none of it, warned her, then a scuffle ensued,” the description continued.  “He was going to put her in cuffs, but eventually chose not to.

Video footage showed a crew member with a surgical mask struggle to subdue the woman, as he appeared to have her in a headlock at one point. Other flight attendants in surgical masks came down the plane’s aisle in an attempt to offer assistance as the woman could be heard screaming in the exchange.

“Stay down! Stay down, please!” one flight crew member could be heard pleading as he struggled to restrain the woman who writhed under his grip.

Eventually, three gloved and masked male members of the flight crew were seen restraining the passenger.

“Thai Airways was informed at Shanghai Airport that there were measures to screen passengers with a history of traveling from risky countries such as Italy, South Korea, Japan and Iran,” Flight Liutenant Prathana Pattanasiri, vice president of Thailand’s aviation safety department, said, according to The Sun.

“We could not open the doors of the plane until instructed to and health officials came to proceed with checks. Therefore, Thai Airways had to wait for seven hours before officials arrived at the inspection queue,” Pattanasiri added.

“The Chinese passenger was upset about being held for a long time and coughed at one of our staff. After she calmed down we explained the situation to her and she agreed to sit and wait for screening,” Pattanasiri said.

Amid the many travel advisories with the outbreak of novel coronavirus (COVID-19), tensions for passengers and staff on airline flights have been understandably high. The death toll in the United States due to the virus rose to 22 as of Monday, while the worldwide total is approaching 4,000.

Social media users who saw the video of the Thai Airways incident had mixed reactions.

“Maybe don’t purposefully cough on someone during a pandemic!” one YouTube user commented.

“Lock her up. Coughing on somebody deliberately is sick!” another wrote.

Many others called the passenger out for her “disgusting” behavior of allegedly coughing on a flight attendant, while some sympathized with the frustration of being grounded on the plane for that many hours.

“Exercising force towards a female passenger by a few male flight attendants is just wrong. What would you do when this happens to your family members,” asked one YouTube user.

“I kind of understand her behavior but to express it this way in a situation like this is not wise at all,” another said.

Frieda Powers

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