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Oblivious Chinese tourists wander back into Naha airport’s departure area, causing chaos

26 Comments
By RocketNews24

Delays at airports are often inevitable due to congested air traffic or technical difficulties, or because the evil cabal of airline operators deemed it time for more delays. Whatever the reason, it’s certainly frustrating to have to wait an extra hour on the tarmac while children scream, people shuffle around, and someone possibly has an outburst.

But these woes are nothing compared to what people at Okinawa's Naha Airport endured when three tourists accidentally wandered back into the departures area and single-handedly put the entire airport on lockdown March 9.

The slip-up by the three Chinese girls - considered a severe breach of airport security - led to five canceled flights, 12 delays and people who were waiting for their planes in departures being herded back out and re-inspected at security.

It goes without saying that everything basically went bananas in the ensuing chaos of people being herded back and forth, while others milled around waiting for their delayed flights.

The girls were apparently on their way to Haneda Airport – presumably to fly back home – after visiting around some of Japan’s further-flung places.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News

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26 Comments
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Curious that the age of the girls wasn't listed. Regardless, assuming the girls weren't terrorists, it means they didn't recognize that the area was off-limits and/or that signage was bad. It also means that there weren't sufficient sentries at those points (i.e., the breach of security is the airport's fault, not the girls'). Even in the USA, signs are few and far between in many airports, causing confusion among literate and intelligent people.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Agreed - if three young tourists can simply wander unchallenged into areas they should not have been in - the airport security needs investigating.

9 ( +12 / -3 )

Trying to figure out how someone can "wander back into the departures area". Had they boarded an aircraft and wandered back from there?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

When I was a tour guide in the states, this happened quite a lot (only with Japanese tourists). Back then, many Japanese people with "new money", weren't use to traveling and often wandered into secured areas of the airports without proper boarding passes, causing all kinds of problems. But since it was the pre-911 days, the airport security would just brush it under the rug and not make an issue of it.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Wandering to some restricted areas are not uncommon specially when the separation of the arrival and departure area or lobby or passage are just ropes or temporary barricade of light materials.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

In Japan this will probably be discussed as "those pesky Chinese again", whereas in most other circles, as you can see already from other posters' comments, it's generally being considered a problem with the airport if such a thing is able to happen.

-1 ( +7 / -8 )

It goes without saying that everything basically went bananas in the ensuing chaos of people being herded back and forth...

I'm having a hard time here connecting the dots, so, no, it really does not go without saying. Three young girls are on one side of the line, then they are on the other side. How does this cause "chaos" and delay flights? Let's get beyond all the airport security theatrics, please?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I'm not understanding how 3 people "wandered back into the departures area" and caused such chaos? Was the "departures area" on the runway or something?

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Overreact much?

4 ( +6 / -2 )

I live on Okinawa. Naha Airport is not that secured. Airplanes arrive at the same gates as the departure. the arrivals and the departing flyers easily walk thru each other on their way to their gate or to the baggage claim. Now if the girls walked out of the baggage claim, and then back into the departure gates, they had to go thru the metal detectors and boarding pass check. THIS might be where the issue is. The Security guards that allow you to go to the departure gates and check your departure boarding pass might have not been paying attention.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

I agree with Okisurfer. I was just at that airport yesterday, and security seemed lax. I had bottled water and a can of soda in my bag going through carry-on inspection, and no one asked me about them. My girlfriend had bottle water, and the made her put it through the bottle tester. And the signage is lax.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

So it seems from posters, the headline should have been something along the lines of -

"Slack security causes chaos in Naha Airport"

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Agreed with above comments. The source says it all: Yahoo! Japan.

Even the headline should not include nationality. Why couldn't they at least have said "Oblivious tourists..." ...instead, they chose to feed the anti-Chinese sentiment in Japan by blaming the "Oblivious Chinese tourists". Pretty immature of Yahoo! Japan.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

@dcog9065

I'm not understanding how 3 people "wandered back into the departures area" and caused such chaos? Was the "departures area" on the runway or something?

You would not believe this, but yes. It's quite a sight to see - You have this massive multi-storey complex with shops, restaurants and all that jazz for the Domestic Terminal. Yet, the "International Terminal" is seriously like a house. I'll never forget the time we flew into Naha (from Taiwan) and we all had to leg it halfway down the runway!

2 ( +2 / -0 )

I'm not understanding how 3 people "wandered back into the departures area" and caused such chaos? Was the "departures area" on the runway or something?

The departure area aka the secured area where the boarding gates are, are areas where you cannot get into without a valid boarding pass or proper security clearance. To be able to just wonder back there undetected is a HUGE breach in security and to mention breaking about 20 DOT different laws. Its enough to have the whole airport shutdown and nothing to scoff at.

Remember, once you are in the secured area, it is assumed that you and your bags have been scanned for illegal items and you are completely cleared of all security protocols, and you have presented all proper travel documents to the authorities. Since these girls where able to get back there undetected and unscanned, they probably had to evacuate the entire boarding area as a security precaution and conduct a comprehensive search to make sure that they did not plant anything banned items or hide any contraband substance for a legit passenger to pick up and sneak on a plane later. This could have easily turned into a hijacking situation if the girls weren't just ignorant little girls, but terrorist. I am surprised that they didn't shut down the whole airport and let any flights take off.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The slip-up by the three Chinese girls

The girls were apparently on their way to Haneda Airport – presumably to fly back home

If these girls are going back to China that means they're traveling some 1,500 miles North East to go 1000 miles West. Thanks for reminding me how international flights in and out of Japan is becoming more concentrated in Tokyo and Tokyo alone.

I agree with Okisurfer. I was just at that airport yesterday, and security seemed lax.

There's much more to be desired from an island that hosts numerous US military installations and perhaps the most strategically sensitive location for Japan's defense, wouldn't you say?

It goes without saying that everything basically went bananas

Is this a shout out to the Okinawa's banana industry? The prefecture happens to be one of only two in Japan that grows this fruit.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The headline smacks of elitism. Tourists are not EXPECTED to know the layout of a foreign airport by heart. It is up to the airport management to provide the proper signage to direct foreign travelers in the proper direction. The ones "oblivious" seem to be the airport's management rather than the tourists.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Tourists are not EXPECTED to know the layout of a foreign airport by heart. It is up to the airport management to provide the proper signage to direct foreign travelers in the proper direction.

The arrivals section at the local airport back home (Brisbane) defies understanding, and this is after "procedure" has been explained. Local and tourist alike are equally confused, and line up where they think might be right, hoping not to be arrested.

Good luck doing a transfer at Cairns if it's your first time too.

Kanku? Nowhere near as bad. A little confusing at times but usually hassle free.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

"The girls were apparently on their way to Haneda Airport".

Meaning they were departing Naha, destined for Haneda.

"three tourists accidentally wandered back into the departures area "

Back from where? And since they were departing, bound for Haneda, isn't the departures area exactly where they should have been?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Indeed, Educator. The story seems to make no sense.

They had deplaned from a flight from an Okinawa island and headed to a flight for Haneda. Departures is where they should have gone. Especially since they were taking domestic flights, without all the immigration procedures and other extra security barriers.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Just some info for those still interested...

Sighclops... The old International terminal, the small shack, is closed now. They built a similar-in-size-to-the-domestic international terminal next to it. I have not flown out of there yet, but I hear it is ALOT better than the domestic.

patty cake champion... Japan has Visa fees for Chinese tourists. One of the "perks" Okinawa gets due to hosting US military, is that the Japanese Central Government has waived that visa fee for Chinese and other Asian countries' tourist if they stay on Okinawa for a couple of days. (to promote tourism and reel in that tourist $$$ into the Okinawan economy) ALOT of South Koreans and Chinese take advantage of this "perk" and stay on Okinawa for a couple of days, and then travel to mainland Japan for their actual vacation.

Okinawa does have flights to Honk Kong, Incheon, Taipei, Seoul, but is only like a flight a day. BUT THEY ARE ALWAYS FULL. Like 3 months in advanced in peak season. I now plan my getaways from Japan thru Naha INTL and these connecting flights. Its a lot better for me, than having to fly all the way back to Tokyo/Osaka.

These young girls might not have planned their travels that well.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

JeffLee at Mar. 18, 2015 - 08:16AM JST "Indeed, Educator. The story seems to make no sense."

I actually saw this incident on TV news the day after it happened but no longer remember the details. But I don't remember being confused by the TV version as I was by this version.

@ Tahoochi "The source says it all: Yahoo! Japan." "Even the headline should not include nationality. Why couldn't they at least have said "Oblivious tourists..." ...instead, they chose to feed the anti-Chinese sentiment in Japan by blaming the "Oblivious Chinese tourists". Pretty immature of Yahoo! Japan."

So I just read the Yahoo Japan accounts from the 10th and a follow up from the 15th. While the headlines mention they were Chinese it doesn't call them oblivious. And the articles refer to them as women, not girls. And the headlines indicate they slipped through a hole in security and that there is a lack of foreign language signage. The details in the articles are clear and understandable and nowhere are the tourists blamed or insulted.

Seems thd immaturity lies with RocknetNews which isn't so interested in accuracy or serious reporting but takes some information from the original source and then, rather than a straight translation, indulges in spinning a flippant "amusing" story.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Pretty sure all the HEADLINES are done by JT, they should correct this to show something along the lines of:

Oblivious or non-existent guards cause chaos by allowing tourists entry to a "secure" area of Naha Airport.

Moderator: The headline is fine.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is the fault of the airport and not the girls.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

I'd pictured something like the women sneaking through a hole in a wall, having done that myself at a Chinese train station once, but apparently from the diagram at Japanese article they just went back to the secure area the same way they exited. So, yeah, likely it's the guards who were oblivious, not the women, especially.

https://www.okinawatimes.co.jp/article.php?id=107196

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If it is possible to wander back into the departure area, some people will do that. I agree with others that the issue here is not "oblivious tourists", Chinese or otherwise, but a fault in airport security.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

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