Woman flying home for CNY has plane all to herself

Ms Zhang found herself the sole passenger of a plane when a 10-hour delay winnowed down other travellers. Her online posts of the experience drew hundreds of likes, shares and comments from Chinese netizens.
Ms Zhang found herself the sole passenger of a plane when a 10-hour delay winnowed down other travellers. Her online posts of the experience drew hundreds of likes, shares and comments from Chinese netizens.PHOTO: SINA WEIBO

Flight was delayed for 10 hours and the rest of the passengers had left

BEIJING • A Chinese woman heading home for the holidays had a commercial airline flight all to herself after gruelling delays winnowed down other passengers.

As nearly 100,000 people found themselves stranded at train stations in Guangzhou on Monday trying to leave, the woman, surnamed Zhang, documented her unique trip to the city on social media.

She posted photos showing row after row of empty seats on the China Southern plane as it flew from Wuhan. The flight had been delayed for 10 hours, and other passengers had departed on earlier flights, leaving Ms Zhang to enjoy personalised attention from the crew.

The experience was "tuhao", she said on her social media feed, using a slang term for the nouveau riche.

"You're right. I'm the only passenger with all the crew! Feels like a tuhao, doesn't it?" she said in a post on Twitter-like Weibo, accompanied by the photos.

Ms Zhang's post drew hundreds of likes, shares and comments from Chinese netizens.

China Southern schedules show the flight normally uses a Boeing 737-700 aircraft, which generally seats 137 passengers.

Statistics on the Flightradar24 website show a China Southern flight from Wuhan to Guangzhou on Monday was due to leave at 0640 GMT, but did not do so until 1639 GMT.

The huge movement of Chinese travelling home to spend the Chinese New Year with their families is often described as the world's largest human migration, and overcrowded planes, trains and automobiles are the norm.

Many on social media envied Ms Zhang's good luck.

"What a fluke that you went against the big New Year's current," one comment read, noting that the plane will be completely full on its flight back from Guangzhou, a prosperous city that attracts many economic migrants.

Over the past several days, tens of thousands of people have been stranded at the city's train stations due to weather conditions. Yesterday, the rail authorities offered the stranded travellers free upgrades to high-speed trains as they tackled the huge backlog of passengers.

Around 33,000 were still stranded at Guangzhou station by midday yesterday, state broadcaster China Central Television said.

Four high-speed trains from other areas were roped in to run extra services to destinations north of the city to reduce the crowds, the Guangzhou Railway (Group) said.

High-speed train travel is much more expensive than ordinary train trips but the delayed travellers would not be charged the difference. Nearly 10,000 would benefit.

The Chinese government estimates that 2.91 billion trips will be taken during the holiday's 40-day travel season.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 04, 2016, with the headline 'Woman flying home for CNY has plane all to herself'. Print Edition | Subscribe