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Throwing Coins at Airplane Engines Not so Auspicious

A Buddhist good luck practice grounds planes in China.

A passenger boarding a flight from Anqing to Kunming in China recently is being sued by a local airline for attempting to throw coins into the engine during the boarding process. The 162 Lucky Air passengers were not so lucky when the act forced the plane to be taken out of service overnight for maintenance and checks at great expense.

The crew found two 1-yuan coins on the ground near the left engine during the preflight check. When the onboard crew asked the passengers about this, one man stepped forward and noted that he thought the act would bring good luck. Instead, the luck brought him seven days in police custody and cost the airline $20,900 to resolve.

“The engine could tremble, lose speed and even stop in midair if a coin were sucked into its core,” he said. “That would put all the passengers on board at great risk,” Ouyang Jie, a professor at Civil Aviation University of China, told a reporter for China Daily.

It turns out the incident was not the first of such charm attempts in China. Twice before, in 2017, elderly Chinese travelers were apprehended after throwing coins into a plane’s engine for good luck. Both were spared prosecution because of their age, according to reports.

In one incident, an 80-year-old woman lobbed nine coins into a China Southern jet at Shanghai’s Pudong International Airport on a flight from Shanghai to Guangzhou in June 2017.  While eight of the coins missed, one hit the mark. The plane took off five hours later and cost the airline a million yuan ($150,000). The woman was not charged with a crime because of her age.