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Airline Regulates Crutches and Wheelchairs in China After Xinjiang Plane Hijacking Incident

They call it the hero plane here in China. At the end of June a group of six Xinjiang extremists attempted to hijack a Tianjin Airlines flight out of Hohot that was bound for Urumqi, the regional capital. The hijackers attempted to take over the plane with pieces from a disassembled set of crutches (or [...]

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They call it the hero plane here in China. At the end of June a group of six Xinjiang extremists attempted to hijack a Tianjin Airlines flight out of Hohot that was bound for Urumqi, the regional capital. The hijackers attempted to take over the plane with pieces from a disassembled set of crutches (or a rigged up cane, depending on the report) and possibly some type of explosive devices. The plot did not work out very well. As the hijackers attempted to pry the cockpit door open with the pieces from the crutches they were promptly set upon by a group of other passengers and flight crew members. A battle ensued, two of the would be hijackers were beaten to death and the others subdued.

In one news report it was said that it was a first class passenger who initial began fighting the hijackers on his own. Reputedly, he saw a man reveal something that looked to be an explosive device, and knocked it out of his hand. “My first thought was to take them down. If I was facing death anyway, the other passengers and I would have a better chance of survival if I were to take them down,” he later told police. This passenger was then beaten over the head by the would be bomber and an all out melee subsequently broke out. Passengers and crew took decisive action and thwarting the hijacking attempt in its entirety.

The Chinese government and press showered the defenders of the plane with praise, calling them heroes. Hainan Airlines, Tianjin’s parent company, gave out excessively huge rewards (money, apartments, and cars) to the flight’s security personnel and the flight attendants. The governments of both Xinjiang and Hainan also rewarded those who reputedly defended the aircraft.

Officials in Xinjiang have now made it illegal to carry crutches or wheelchairs onto flights departing from Kashgar, and have restricted their access on flights originating from other cities around Xinjiang.

Filed under: Air Travel, China

About the Author:

I am the founder and editor of Vagabond Journey. He has been traveling the world since 1999, through 90 countries. I am the author of the book, Ghost Cities of China, and contributes to The Guardian, Forbes, Bloomberg, The Diplomat, the South China Morning Post, and other publications. has written 3612 posts on Vagabond Journey. Contact the author.

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