Chinese woman fined $38 for tossing coins from plane to ‘cure baby’s diarrhoea’

A woman who threw coins onto the parking apron at an airport in southwest China in the superstitious belief it might cure her cousin's baby's diarrhoea was instead fined 200 yuan (S$38.80), local media reported.

The incident happened on September 5, as the woman, surnamed Wang, and a group of her relatives arrived in Xichang, Sichuan province, after flying from Nanchang, Jiangxi province, to attend a family wedding, the Chengdu Business News reported on Friday.

Wang, 23, dropped the coins through the gap between the aircraft and the jet bridge as she and her family were disembarking.

Although no one spotted what she had done at the time, airport workers later found three coins on the ground while conducting a security check and reported the matter to the police.

Officers reviewed footage from the airport's surveillance cameras and identified Wang as the guilty party and went to see her at her hotel the following morning, the report said.

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Wang said that during the flight her cousin's baby had suffered from diarrhoea and that it was customary in her hometown to toss coins in the hope it would bring the child good luck.

"She said she didn't realise her action could have had a very serious outcome," a police officer was quoted as saying, adding that Wang appeared shocked when she realised the trouble she had caused.

However, as her actions had not resulted in any delays to flights or created any other problems, she was charged only with a minor offence.

Wang, who recently completed a bachelor's degree in medicine and was preparing to sit a graduate school entrance examination, was worried the incident might have an impact on her future education and job prospects, the officer said.

More than 5,000 people commented on the story on news portal, with one asking: "You are so superstitious, how can you treat patients?"

In recent years there have been numerous reports of Chinese travellers causing delays and being punished for tossing coins onto airport runways and even into aircraft engines.

In April, a woman was detained for throwing six coins as she was about to board a plane in southern China in the hope it would guarantee her a safe trip.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.