Drunk men assault flight attendant at Vietnam airport over selfie refusal

By Le Hoang, Doan Loan   November 24, 2018 | 11:07 pm PT
Three Vietnamese men have received a one-year flight ban for assaulting a flight attendant in Thanh Hoa Province.

Officials from the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam issued the decision on Sunday, saying they have also asked the police to put the men under criminal investigation.

The violence, captured on video by an eyewitness, sparked a public outcry after it went viral online.

The video shows three men slapping and kicking a woman at the Tho Xuan Airport in the central coastal province of Thanh Hoa, a four hour drive to the south of Hanoi.

The victim was identified as Le Thi Giang, a female employee of the Vietjet Air budget carrier.

At 2:20 p.m. Friday, the three men, Pham Huu An, 28, Le Van Nhi, 41, and Le Trung Dung, 34, went to the airport to see off a friend who boarded a Vietnam Airlines flight for Ho Chi Minh City.

After their friend had completed the check-in procedure, the triple had Giang take a group photo for them at the departure hall. She accepted their request.

When they asked her to join them for another group photo, Giang declined, saying she was on duty.

Following her refusal, the men became agitated and got violent, slapping her and kicking her to the ground. An airport manager witnessed the incident and tried to stop the men’s violent acts but was also slapped in the face.

One of her colleagues who filmed the incident with her mobile phone was threatened, and two security staff at the airport were also reportedly attacked by the gang.

A short while after, airport security officers subdued the gang and took them the local police station.

An airport representative said the men were said to be drunk.

Le Nhu Anh, chief of police in Thanh Hoa’s Tho Xuan District, said they were taking the incident seriously.

Administrative or criminal punishment would have decided on after investigations are completed, he said.

Last year, a Vietnamese man was fined VND7.5 million ($330) for hitting a female staff member of Vietjet Air in the face with his bag after she refused to give him the boarding pass, and offered to move his flight to the next day.

In 2016, an inspector with Hanoi's transport department was sacked for assaulting a female Vietnam Airlines employee in an incident that also triggered public outcry and prompted Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc to call for a thorough investigation. 

Low-cost carriers and the rise of middle-income earners have seen rapid growth in Vietnam’s aviation industry. The country served more than 53 million air passengers in the first half of this year, up 14 percent from a year ago.

UPDATE: Police of Tho Xuan District announced to open a criminal probe against the three men on Sunday night, under the charges of "disturbing public order."

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