Why Do Chinese People Keep Throwing Coins into Plane Engines?

By Naomi Lounsbury, March 15, 2019

1 0

There have been at least four incidents of passengers throwing coins into or towards plane engines since 2017, with the most recent occurring on March 10.

The bizarre, reoccurring episodes have sparked a discussion online as to what exactly is going through someone’s head when they decide to toss a piece of metal into a highly complex machine, especially a machine that people’s lives depend on.

There have been several Weibo blogs and articles published that discuss this topic and the most common word to appear in relation to the phenomenon of throwing coins at plane engines is ‘luck’ (祈福). 

The first major incident of engine-targeted coin throwing (that we’ve come across, anyway) occurred back in June of 2017, when an 80-year-old Buddhist woman tossed nine coins at the engine of China Southern Airlines flight CZ380. In the wake of this debacle, numerous media outlets, including the Telegraph and the Independent, noted the woman’s Buddhist faith and that the passenger was superstitious.

But with an estimated 488 million Buddhists worldwide, according to the Pew Research Center, shouldn’t these episodes be occurring more frequently? Well, it turns out that throwing coins in general is not a Buddhist tradition. According to a prominent WeChat blog (国家人文历史), the coin-tossing superstition has been borrowed from the Western tradition of throwing coins into fountains to bring good luck. 

How exactly the jump was made from coins in ponds to coins in aircraft engines is not exactly clear, but what is apparent is that a small percentage of misguided Chinese air travelers (we found zero evidence of this phenomenon occuring in other countries) believe throwing a circular piece of metal into a jet engine will bring good luck. And that, we reckon, is rather silly.

If you are superstitious and are craving a little extra luck before a long flight, do not throw coins into an aircraft engine. Instead, carry a lucky charm, say a prayer, or just rely on good ol’ positive thinking!

READ MORE: 2 Women Detained After Throwing Coins at Plane in China

[Cover image via @祥鹏航空/Weibo]

more news

New 'China Untold' Episode Introduces an Ancient Chinese Cult

If you are from the West, the word 'cult' likely brings about thoughts of spiked Kool-Aid and aliens. But how much do you know about Chinese cults?

Chinese Migrants, Lost Mines & Ghost Towns on New 'China Untold' Episode

Chinese people were significant players in the rise and fall of resource towns in western Canada in the 1800s and 1900s.

8 Chinese Aphrodisiacs to Help You Get it On

The Chinese way to rev your engine.

Happy Chinese New Year from That's & Urban Family!

We wish you a healthy and prosperous Year of the Ox.

7 Surprising Stats on Chinese Internet Users

China has nearly 260 million users over 50 years old and 160 million Internet users under 20 years old.

How This Chinese E-Cigarette Brand is Vaporizing the Competition

Shenzhen-based vape brand Relx has made a name for itself in a short two-year period.

0 User Comments

In Case You Missed It…

We're on WeChat!

Scan our QR Code at right or follow us at Thats_Shanghai for events, guides, giveaways and much more!

7 Days in Shanghai With thatsmags.com

Weekly updates to your email inbox every Wednesday

Subscribe

Download previous issues

Never miss an issue of That's Shanghai!

Visit the archives