An A330 of Hainan Airlines prepares for take-off at Beijing Capital International Airport. (Photo: VCG)
A flight from Xiaoshan International Airport in East China's Hangzhou was delayed for 50 minutes on Sunday when the captain agreed to return to the terminal after an elderly couple asked to get off the plane because they had just learned of the death of a relative.
The captain of the Hainan Airlines flight decided to let the couple off the plane and reported the reason for the passengers and other crew members, the Qianjing Evening News reported.
The flight took off 50 minutes late but arrived in Sanya, South China's Hainan Province only 15 minutes behind schedule as it appears the airline gave the captain permission to fly faster, which would consume more fuel.
The online topic "flight returns as the elderly couple learns relative died" sparked a lot of discussion on Twitter-like Sina Weibo. Some praised the captain and airline for the humane treatment of the couple during their time of distress.
"What a warm and lovely move! It shows respect for people dealing with death," said a net user who received many likes.
According to local media reports in Hangzhou, a similar case in 2013 saw a flight from Xiaoshan International Airport return to the gate to pick up a passenger who was late for her flight. She had learned that day that her daughter had been killed in a car accident.
"We all understood, so I didn't say anything on the plane. But I was really anxious at the time," a passenger on Sunday's flight told Pear Video, saying he was worried he might miss his train if the flight arrived in Sanya late.
"The rules have to be humane and should be bent sometimes, even if it means the interests of other passengers have to be sacrificed," said a netizen.