Travel Gossip: The Mystery of Throwing Coins at Airplanes

By Billy Jiang, November 3, 2023

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If you've ever been to a temple or classical garden in China, you've probably witnessed tourists tossing coins into ponds, at ancient trees, or even stone statues. 

This peculiar ritual is rooted in cultural customs, where coin-tossing is a way of seeking blessings.

But tossing coins in the wrong place can lead to, well, let's say, less-than-blessed consequences.

Now, while throwing coins at airplanes might sound absolutely bonkers, it has actually happened many times!

Yep, people just can't resist adding an extra dimension of risk to air travel.

On the morning of October 29, during the boarding process of China Southern Airlines Flight CZ3121 from Guangzhou to Beijing, airline staff spotted a passenger tossing coins at the plane.

To ensure the safety of the flight, the airline decided to delay takeoff for a comprehensive inspection, resulting in a three-hour delay.

These bizarre events seem to be happening all too frequently, and since 2019, there have been at least seven similar incidents:

  • April 16, 2021: GX8814 at Weifang Airport

  • February 17, 2019: 8L9960 at Anqing Airport

  • March 10, 2019: 8L9616 at Jinan Airport

  • April 2, 2019: HU7783 at Wuhan Airport

  • April 16, 2019: GS6681 at Hohhot Airport

  • April 20, 2019: CZ8427 at Nanning Airport

  • September 8, 2019: 3U8060 at Xichang Airport


Airport ground staff checking on airplane's engine in Xichang, Sichuan, September 2019. Image via CGTN

Here's the deal: the airplane's engines, being the vital organs they are, can't handle the impact of hard metallic objects. 

If something like a coin gets sucked into the engine, it can cause damage and even lead to a catastrophic engine fire. 

So, tossing coins or any object at an airplane doesn't bring good fortune; on the contrary, might result in a potentially disastrous flight accident.

Why do some folks just not get that? Well, that's a head-scratcher for the ages.

What's your take on throwing coins at airplanes? Feel free to share your thoughts. For more intriguing travel stories, follow our WeChat public account, ThatsGBA.

[Cover image by Billy Jiang/That's]

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