Women Seeking Duty Free Bargains Cause Airport Mayhem

Open Jaw

Security gates were closed and dozens of flights delayed at OKA after 3 female tourists in search of duty free bargains wandered into secure areas.

The 3 women from China were waiting for a connecting flight to Tokyo at Naha Airport in Okinawa when they decided to go off and look for duty-free shopping, the Ryuku Shimpo newspaper reported. Somehow they ended up in the baggage reclaim area and at the departure gate. That's when the chaos started.

Alarms were sounded and 6,300 pax were ordered to go through security checks again. 5 flights were grounded, 25 others were delayed and, as the milling crowds built up, airport staff were forced to climb on desks and use megaphones to yell instructions.

In the wake of a series of well-publicized events featuring Chinese travellers behaving badly, the incident has provoked heated discussion on social media in China, the HKG-based South China Morning Post reports. Some accuse the women of being an embarrassment to the country and have called for them to be banned from further overseas travel.

Recent incidents involving Chinese travellers include hot noodles being thrown at a flight attendant, a slide being deployed so a passenger could beat the crowds getting off a flight, a door being opened on the tarmac to let in some fresh air and computers being smashed in an airport terminal in reaction to a flight delay.

In December, China's National Tourism Administration (CNTA) threatened severe punishment for disruptive travellers after a video emerged of an angry passenger shouting a threat to blow up a plane. That outburst came on the same flight where another passenger had hurled a scalding bowl of hot water and noodles over a flight attendant.

It's all getting even more attention than all those Americans continually forgetting they're packing heat when they attempt to go through airport security… thousands of them annually.

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