Fed-up flight passengers were stuck on the tarmac for seven hours after a stand-off between the captain and an ill passenger who refused to get off the plane before cops were called.
This is despite the patient clearing all the checkpoints and two different medical teams being dispatched to the plane by the airport to confirm they were healthy enough to fly.
The unnamed patient, a man in his 50s hooked up to an intravenous drip, cleared all security checkpoints at Kunming Changshui International Airport in south-western China’s Yunnan Province.
He was given priority boarding for Kunming Airlines Flight 8291, which had a scheduled take-off time of 6:50 pm and an estimated arrival just 100 minutes later in Chengdu, capital of neighbouring Sichuan Province where the patient was to be treated for acute necrotising pancreatitis.
However, after the Boeing 737-800 was fully boarded, the captain learned of the sick passenger on the flight manifest and reportedly refused to fly, citing possibly health concerns en route which he did not want to be responsible for.
According to passenger Mr Zhang, a lengthy stand-off lasting nearly seven hours began, with Kunming airport even sending two groups of ground medics to independently confirm that the patient was healthy enough to fly.
Mr Zhang recalled: “But the captain insisted he would not be responsible for any accidents mid-flight.
“Around midnight, Kunming Airlines told us they could put us on another flight the next day – but said they wouldn’t reimburse any lodging expenses for the night.
“During this time, we were given a small bottle of water and a packet of biscuits each.”
In the end, fed-up passengers called Kunming police, who arrived to help negotiate the impasse.
The sick passenger and his family members eventually agreed to leave the plane, and the flight took off six hour and 50 minutes late at 1:40 am the following morning, arriving at 3 am on 25th May.
Mr Zhang said: “The airline verbally agreed to send the passenger to Chengdu in an ambulance, and they compensated us 200 RMB (22 GBP) each for the delay.”
Kunming Airlines has been criticised for its handling of the matter but has yet to release a statement addressing the lengthy delay.
It is therefore unclear whether the airline has made good on its promise to transport the patient to Chengdu in an ambulance – a 850-kilometre (528-mile) journey.