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BEIJING — A commercial jet's emergency exit was pulled open by a first-time flier as the aircraft prepared to take off so he could get some "fresh air," according to local media in China. The safety scare aboard the Xiamen Airlines flight came days after Chinese passengers reportedly threw hot water and noodles at a Thai stewardess, setting off a fresh round of debate on social media over the image and behavior of Chinese travelers.

The fresh-air incident occurred on Sunday, when the Xiamen Flight MF8453 flier suddenly opened the emergency door as the plane was preparing to depart for Chengdu from Hangzhou. The 50-year-old passenger was not punished because he had never been on a plane before and didn't mean any harm, according to a Southern Metropolis Daily report. The flier had explained to flight attendants that he "just wanted to let in some fresh air," the report added.

That explanation — and lack of punishment — has drawn criticism in China's court of public opinion. “We should punish him hard or we would be risking others' safety,” one commenter posted on the Southern Metropolis Daily’s Weibo, a Twitter-like site. Another said: “We should ban these guys.” One commenter on the Weibo of China's Central Television — CCTV — said: “If this happened in the United States, he would surely be arrested.” Another chimed in to add that "though Chinese are rich now, their behavior is still bad."


— Eric Baculinao