SHANGHAI –– A superstitious elderly passenger delayed a flight in Shanghai after throwing coins at the engine for good luck, a Chinese airline has confirmed.
The 80-year-old woman threw her change at the China Southern Airlines flight as she crossed the tarmac to board.
She told police she launched the coins as she “prayed for safety” on Tuesday.
Of the nine coins launched, only one hit its intended target –– but this was enough to force the evacuation of 150 passengers for several hours.
Police were called to Shanghai Pudong International Airport after a passenger noticed the woman’s bizarre behaviour, apparently aimed at ensuring a safe flight, and alerted authorities.
The woman, who was travelling with her husband, daughter and son-in-law, was then taken away for questioning by officers, local media report.
“In order to make sure the flight is safe, China Southern maintenance has conducted a full examination of the plane’s engine,” China Southern Airlines said in a statement on the microblogging site Weibo.
Police later shared their findings, which amounted to a single coin with the value of about 1.7 yuan.
“After an investigation the involved passenger, surnamed Qiu, said she threw the coins to pray for safety. According to Qiu’s neighbour, Qiu believes in Buddhism,” the police said.
The flight was eventually given the all-clear and took off at 5:52 p.m. local time (9:52 a.m. GMT), more than five hours late.
News of the incident caused a fair amount of turbulence on the social media site Weibo, with one user commenting: “Grandma, this is not a wish fountain with turtles.”
China Southern Airlines later urged passengers to comply with civil aviation laws and regulations and avoid behaviour that could prove detrimental to the safety of passengers travelling on its flights.