A Chinese woman has reportedly been jailed for four weeks after she repeatedly tried to bribe security and airline officials to let her on a flight to Europe despite the fact that she didn’t hold a valid visa to enter the continent.
Zeng Xiuying had travelled with her companion from Thailand to Singapore and hoped to catch a KLM flight to Amsterdam on October 16 but ended up getting turned away from the gate before they even got onboard the plane.
The 52-year-old didn’t have a valid visa to enter the Netherlands, and KLM confirmed that it wouldn’t let the woman board the flight, although that didn’t allegedly stop Zeng from trying to bribe security and airline officials to let her onboard anyway.
One of the security officers told a Singapore court that he noticed the couple hanging around the gate despite having already been told that they couldn’t board.
When he approached them, Zeng allegedly put her hand on his shoulder and handed him US $50 before asking him to speak with the airline in the hope of being allowed to fly to Europe.
The officer ‘repeatedly’ refused the money but went to the KLM ticket counter to double-check Zeng’s situation, where it was confirmed she had been denied boarding. As he broke the news to Zheng, she again tried to pass him a ‘bundle’ of cash hidden inside her travel itinerary.
The officer yet again refused the bribe but that didn’t stop Zheng from hanging around the gate area. When a KLM agent later approached Zheng to ascertain what she was doing, Zheng tried to bribe the airline employee.
Zheng was eventually arrested for bribery, although she told the court that she had offered the money in the hope of finding out why she had been denied boarding. Zheng also pleaded for leniency, arguing that this was her first time travelling overseas.
Even if the KLM had allowed Zheng to board the flight, she would have faced being detained in the Netherlands and possibly returned straight back to Singapore. The airline would have faced a hefty fine for allowing someone without a visa to board one of their planes and would be expected to cover all the costs of repatriating the deported.
According to the South China Morning Press, Zheng had faced a possible maximum sentence of five years imprisonment plus a fine of up to $73,300.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.