The rainy, typhoon season causes havoc to the airplane schedules of southern China. This is a story from one such typhoon season. The informant, who happens to be married to me, vouches for its authenticity.
The China Southern Airlines evening flight bound for Zhuhai started easily enough with a business-as-usual safety demonstration and meal service. The flight was chock full of business people headed from the factories and migrant labor force of greater-Shanghai to the factories and migrant labor force of Guangdong Province.
As the plane made its way south, turbulence increased and fasten seatbelt signs flickered on. The plane circled Zhuhai Airport for some time before being re-directed to Guangzhou. Annoyed, but still reasonable, passengers drank an extra beer and dosed off dreaming of golf.
After circling Guangzhou the plane was okayed for return to Zhuhai. Rows of businessmen with dyed black hair sighed with relief and jumped up to relieve themselves before landing. By this point, turbulence had caused a few misses and the WC’s floor and lower walls were sticky and fragrant with urine.
Nearing the anticipated landing in Zhuhai, the weather kicked up again, causing more disgusting bathroom misses and (to the utter annoyance of all passengers) the plane being sent back to Guangzhou.
This is the point when the thin line between civilization and savagery broke down.
Seatbelt signs were ignored and toilets became shockingly unusable.
The “no smoking” rules were unilaterally voided by passengers and most of the plane lit-up as if on cue.
Flight attendants, powerless to stop the plane-wide anarchy, did their best to maintain a professional air in the face of complete mid-air mutiny.