On Feb. 17, 2019, security staff at the Anqing Tianzhushan Airport in Anhui Province came across two one-yuan coins on the ground. The coins were dropped near the left engine of the ironically named “Lucky Air” flight 8L9960. Fearing a safety breach, they delayed the flight in order to investigate.
After staff questioned the passengers, a slightly embarrassed 28-year-old named Lu who was traveling with his wife and child admitted to throwing the coins into the plane’s engine “for a safe flight.” He was immediately detained, and the flight was cancelled. A seriously disgruntled 161 passengers had to wait 24 hours for the next flight to Kunming.
The Points Guy claims that small objects, such as coins, can cause immense damage to a plane’s engine—in serious cases, even total engine failure—if they are sucked into the engine before or during the aircraft’s flight.
Lucky Air allegedly lost 140,000 yuan (approx. US$20,000) because of the cancelled flight, and they plan to sue the coin thrower, Lu. “Not only does tossing coins not give you good luck, it will endanger aviation safety and land you in detention,” said the airline, in a statement released on Feb. 22. “You could be fined and prosecuted.”
The 28-year-old luck seeker is not the only plane passenger to have performed this same ritual. Since 2017, two other cases have been reported.
In June of 2017, another coin thrower was detained. This time, an 80-year-old woman was caught red-handed by another passenger at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. She threw nine coins towards the engine for good luck and cost almost 150 passengers their flight. “The passenger involved has been taken away by police,” China Southern Airlines assured the indignant crowd. The entire plane was evacuated.
In October of 2017, another elderly woman, this time 76 years old, threw coins in the belief that it would ensure a safe flight. But it seems that with age comes many advantages, not least escaping the wrath of the law! Neither woman was prosecuted, precisely because of their advanced age.
— The Straits Times (@STcom) June 27, 2017
However, social media users couldn’t resist poking fun at the superstitious passengers: “Grandma, this is not a wish fountain with turtles,” said one. And whilst the desire to provide a safe passage for all travelers may have been an honorable one, Lady Luck was not smiling down on this particular coin toss!
Do you have any good luck rituals? Share your superstitions with us and each other in the comments section below!