A passenger’s boyfriend, surnamed Yu, had accused Spring Airlines of “discriminating against patients with depression.” According to Yu’s account on Weibo, his girlfriend’s hands had been shaking — a side effect of the lithium carbonate sustained-release tablets she takes for her medical condition.
An airline staff member “interrogated me and my girlfriend about her condition at the gate in front of other passengers,” Yu wrote, adding that his girlfriend was showing no other abnormal signs and had provided relevant medical documents. “I’m not sure it’s reasonable to ask passengers about their private medical conditions in public.”
Yu told The Paper that his girlfriend had a Wednesday appointment with a specialist at Nanjing Brain Hospital. In the end, the couple had to take the train in order to make the appointment.
“My girlfriend was basically cured — but after all the (trouble with the airline), she cried all the way (to Nanjing), and even had some bad thoughts,” Yu wrote, adding that she had never had a problem boarding flights because of her depression before. “I hope Spring Airlines will provide a reasonable explanation.”
In a statement Wednesday to The Paper, Shanghai-based Spring Airlines said it had made a “regretful decision” in telling a passenger she could not board a flight the previous day because of her psychological condition.The airline said it had refunded the ticket costs for the passenger and her boyfriend, who was accompanying her on the Nanjing-bound flight from Weihai, in the eastern Shandong province. The airline described the passenger as “emotionally unstable,” her health status “unclear.”
On Chinese social media, there has been heated discussion over the case, with a related Weibo hashtag viewed over 290 million times. Some netizens slammed Spring Airlines for being “arrogant” and discriminatory, while others sympathized with the airline for making what it had apparently determined to be the safe call.
On Sept. 23, a passenger locked himself in a lavatory and tried to kill himself during an Air China flight, prompting the crew to make an emergency landing. He later died at a hospital.