I feel very sorry for Lu Chao. An innocent act has landed him in a heap of trouble with a fine he claims he cannot pay.
Airline Passengers Fined For Tossing Coin Into Aircraft Engine
Last February, I wrote about the incident.
Lu was traveling on Lucky Air from Ningbo to Anqing. As he boarded his flight, he flung two one yuan coins toward the engine in hopes that it would bring “good luck” to the flight. Officials noticed the coins and cancelled the flight. A coin sucked into an aircraft can engine can severely damage the turbine and lead to engine failure. That could lead to a host of problems if it occurs in the air, including a crash…
Lucky Air, a subsidiary of the Hainan group, sued the passenger for the equivalent of $21,000. Lu also spent 10 days in prison over the incident.
Now a District Court decision in Anqing, handed down in July, has been made public. Lu has been ordered to pay 120,000 CNY (~$17,200) in restitution for his actions. Lucky claimed that amount included maintenance, rebooking, and lodging costs incurred due to the delay.
In his defense, Lu’s brother argued that Lucky Air failed to make an announcement stating that throwing coins was prohibited. It was 28-year-old Lu’s first flight and he had no idea the traditional Chinese act of tossing a coin as a sign of good luck was prohibited.
I don’t have the verbiage of the law in front of me, but generally ignorance of law is never an excuse for breaking it. There are “specific intent” exceptions, but I cannot imagine that applies to tossing coins into aircraft engines. I think the the $17K charge sounds about right…but my heart actually aches for Lu, who was probably so excited to board a plane for the first time. Perhaps he should consider a Kickstarter campaign…
image: Anna Zvereva / Wikimedia Commons