Last week, Việt Nam News asked its readers for their opinion of the VNĐ15 million (US$672) fine the Southern Airports Authority gave a male passenger who slapped an air hostess after accusing her of stealing his mobile phone on a flight. Here are some of their comments:
Anh Lê, Vietnamese, Hà Nội
I assume the narrative reported by the media was accurate, after all, I have not heard his side of the story. If this is the truth, this incident is troubling.
Money absolutely cannot buy you manners. Even if you are rich, you can still behave boorish and aggressively.
Such a condescending attitude and violent outburst towards a female flight attendant also reveals entrenched gender biases.
I suspect this passenger would have thought twice had the attendant been a sturdily built man.
I am also disappointed at the authorities’ response. Vietnam Airlines, in the capacity of an employer and a service provider, could have done more to protect its employees.
First, they could explore legal options. When this passenger wrongly accused the hostess of stealing, he committed slander; when he slapped her in her face, he committed battery. He could have been arrested as soon as he landed. The victim alone might lack the resources to bring the case to court but it would not and should not be the case for the company.
Vietnam Airlines could have sued the passenger on behalf of the victim. I am sure their lawyers could demonstrate legally recognised damages from which their employee had been suffering and demanded compensation.
Second, it could ban this passenger from Vietnam Airlines flights for a certain amount of time.
Isn’t it ironic that the man who committed a-slap-on-a-face assault on a lady only received a slap-on-the-wrist punishment?
Andrew Burden, Canadian in Hà Nội
I have been fortunate my flights arrive on time and no luggage is lost. Other passengers behaved well and coffee refills were hot. No matter what happens, I would never slap a flight attendant.
The man should be punished by writing a letter of apology, delivering it publicly to the flight attendant and taking an anger management class.
Hương Thiếu Huyền, Vietnamese, Hà Nội
When reading about this, I was reminded of a similar story I read early this month.
A flight attendant of Phillipines-based airline Cebu Pacific was left with red marks on her face and her neck after she was allegedly slapped by an angry passenger in a row over hand luggage.
Cebu Pacific blacklisted the passenger and said it would support its staff when they have been subjected to abuse, physical or verbal, from passengers. The flight attendant wanted to file charges against the passenger.
Under Philippines law anyone convicted of assaulting a flight attendant can be sent to jail for three years and/or fined up to 500,000 pesos (US$10,500).
I also read the story “Unscrupulous passengers slap, throw food at airline employee over flight delay in Changsha” on China.com in April. A Capital Airlines flight out of Changsha was delayed because of bad weather. Some asked to speak with an airline representative. When their request was denied, they decided to humiliate airline staff. Onlookers captured video of one angry woman flinging her boxed lunch at the airline employee.
Later, a man was seen slapping the employee in the face. He aggressively follows her as she tries to retreat, shouting: "I hit you, so what?" Netizens expressed their utter disgust at the incident, asking that the two travelers be placed on the national blacklist, if not thrown into prison.
Compared with these two other cases, I think the punishment in the Vietnam Airlines case was not strict enough. He might say it was a mistake, he was out of control, hot tempered or something else, but he was so rude to do so, especially to a female.
Nguyễn Hưng, a student, Hà Nội
It is unacceptable that a man slapped a woman. He must be ashamed of his behavior.
I find some similarities between this case and assaults or abuse of hospital workers.
I used to work as a waiter in restaurant, so I understand how to serve angry and rude people. We were told to be patient and respect customers. Every problem must be addressed with calm manners. I think a similar lesson should be delivered to customers. Some customers/ consumers/ passengers forget or never learnt to be polite and respect others. — VNS