BEIJING - As if "nut rage" weren't bad enough, Asia got another dose of "air rage" last week when Chinese tourists went berserk on a flight to Thailand, scalding a flight attendant with noodles and hot water and then threatening to bomb the plane, apparently because they were unhappy about their seating arrangements.
Chinese authorities say the tourists could face severe punishment for badly damaging "the image of the Chinese people," after a video and photographs of the incident were widely circulated on the Web.
It comes at a time when Chinese people are traveling more and more widely, but gaining a reputation for unruly behavior. Authorities have been urging them for years to behave with more civility when abroad, with limited effect.
Flight forced to return
The plane, a budget Thai AirAsia flight from Bangkok to the Chinese city of Nanjing, was forced to return Thursday to Bangkok, where the pilot asked four passengers to disembark. They were reportedly unhappy about not being able to sit together.
In a video uploaded by a passenger and later broadcast by China Central Television, a man is seen angrily shouting, pointing, cursing, threatening, insisting he had money to pay for better seats. "You think a big boss can't afford to spend some money," he says at one point, referring to himself.
The woman who took the video can be heard remarking that she had to post it online because it was "shameful."
Nuts in a bag
Earlier in the week, the daughter of Korea Air's chairman was publicly shamed after ordering the head steward to be removed from a flight after being served nuts in a bag rather than on a plate. That story seemed to show the arrogance that comes with the power of South Korea's huge conglomerates.
The Chinese version showed that tycoons traveling first class were not the only people behaving badly on airlines these days, with tempers often frayed on tightly packed budget flights all over the world.
But it is also being seen as another example of how some Chinese tourists are letting their country down with a lack of civility abroad.
On a visit to the Maldives in September, President Xi Jinping apologized for the behavior of his fellow countrymen, saying China should educate its citizens to be "civilized" when traveling abroad.