Planes Are Not Wishing Wells, Stop Throwing Coins in the Engines

Lucky Air, part of Hainan Airlines group, offers four-times weekly Anqing to Kunming Airbus A320 service. Last week one of those flights was cancelled because planes are not wishing wells.

Another Chinese passenger grounded a plane by tossing a coin into the engine. The passenger was already flying Lucky Air but wanted some additional good luck for the flight.

Fellow passengers reported that coins were tossed at the engine of a Lucky Air jet during boarding, and ground crew later found coins lying on the tarmac next to the plane, according to various statements by the airline, airport authorities, and transport police.

Lucky Air Airbus A319-112 B-6221 by byeangel from Tsingtao, China via Wikimedia Commons

Although Channel News Asia reports the incident occurred on Wednesday, October 19 it appears to have occurred on Wednesday (correct) October 18th and not Thursday the 19th based on the flight’s cancellation:

A 76 year old woman was taken into custody and the aircraft was grounded for further inspection.

This follows an incident just four months ago where an 80-year-old woman caused a six hour delay of a China Southern aircraft departing Shanghai by tossing nine coins at the engine while boarding. One coin made it inside the engine, apparently.

Because she was 80 and genuinely seemed to believe her Buddhism instructed that this was necessary to ensure her safety enroute to Guangzhou authorities didn’t press charges. I do find tossing nine coins — rather than eight — to be curious, however. What’s a long life without prosperity?

(HT: Meg Butler)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »


  1. Gary, 9 symbolizes longevity (whereas 8 for prosperous–usually financially), so in this case, 9 may be more appropriate 😉

  2. Thanks you two for the clarification. I, too was intrigued by the number. Our selling realtor in Cupertino strongly advised us back in the day to price our house at $XXX,888.

    But understanding the meaning, I’d be all over the “9” significance on a flight. Not tossing coins, though.

    Thanks for that tidbit.

  3. People don’t deal well with “don’t do XXX”, particularly 80 year old women. They are more likely than not to wait until you have your back turned, then throw the coins when they think no one is looking. In which cases, more times than not, the planes probably fly with coins in the engine.

    A better solution, if this is a recurring problem, and it seems to be, is to stick a little altar on the way to a plane, with a Buddha or whatever is the local deity above a hole that says in the local language “throw coins here to ensure a safe passage”. Then give all the coins to a local charity…

  4. There are many solutions to this. Don’t walk the passengers in front of the engine, perhaps. Or put a cover over the engine. Or a big fine and not being allowed to fly, EVER again on that airline.

    It’s a cop-out to say “old people will just do what they want”. They certainly will if there are no consequences, of course. But if the price for their behavior is loss of the ticket, a fine on top of that and loss of permission to fly ever again they’ll fall into line and behave themselves.

  5. As a American who witnesses witless behaviors in US airports, I suppose it’s somewhat heartening to learn that travelers in other cultures can be just as stupid.

  6. Agree with Rob – put a cover or other screen between the passengers and engine. Catering trucks routinely put a cover on the engine cowl for rear engine plaes (MD-80, etc.). Seems like a simple and cheap solution.

  7. Just one more example of how idiotically people behave when driven by religion or other baseless superstitions. If I was lucky enough to survive a plane crash caused by some moron who threw coins in the engine “for good luck,” and they survived, too, I’d track them down and slit their throat.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *