An elderly woman delayed a flight in China for more than four hours Tuesday after throwing coins into the plane’s jet engine “for good luck.”
The 80-year-old threw nine coins into the engine’s turbine and performed a blessing as she was boarding the China Southern Airlines flight at Pudong Airport, prompting passengers to alert airline staff.
The flight, which was scheduled to leave Pudong for Guangzhou Baiyun International Airport at 12:40 p.m. was delayed until 4:50 p.m. while staff carried out a thorough assessment of the engine turbines.
Passengers who had already boarded the flight were removed from the aircraft while the search for the coins was being carried out.
Mechanics carrying out the inspection found one coin inside the engine, and eight around it, with the coins having total value of 1.7 yuan (US$0.2), Shanghai Daily reported.
Police told the newspaper the woman was a practicing Buddhist and had no mental health problems or criminal record, while witnesses on social media claimed the woman had performed the coin-tossing ritual to “wish for a safe flight.”
“A senior passenger threw coins to the plane’s engine and delayed the flight. The passenger involved has been taken away by police,” China Southern Airlines said in a statement seen by Circa. “In order to make sure the flight is safe, China Southern maintenance has conducted a full exam of the plane’s engine.”
It is not yet clear whether the airline will be taking any further action against the woman, but an investigation into the incident is still underway, The Independent reported.
Once the airline staff had found all of the coins, passengers were allowed to re-enter the aircraft, and the flight finally got underway more than four hours after boarding had begun. The elderly woman who threw the coins into the engine was not on the flight.