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Chinese airport uses cheerleaders to soothe stranded passengers
Flight delayed? Grab a seat for the next cheerleading show and bask in one airport's idea of "social responsibility"
While some Chinese travelers storm the tarmac when flights get delayed, others might wish their flights never take off -- assuming they're flying from the northeast China city of Dalian.
To entertain waiting passengers, Dalian International Airport recently recruited a squad of cheerleaders to perform kicks, jumps and splits in the airport's main hall.
During massive fog-related delays in Dalian last week, the cheerleaders' pom-pom routines “soothed emotion and alleviated fatigue” for more than 5,000 stranded flyers, according to the Dalian Evening News.
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The cheerleading show is part of the airport’s effort to “bring more convenience to passengers in the summer-autumn air season,” said Zhen Qun (郑群), an airport official.
It’s also a way for the Dalian airport to “demonstrate spirit and shoulder social responsibility,” according to an airport press release.
The airport has launched a series of other innovative services, including free physical checkups and instant weather and flight updates by text message.
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Zhen did not discuss the daily schedule of cheerleader shows, but the airport has staged at least one performance every day in the past week, each lasting two to three hours, with breaks.
“The cheerleaders are enrolled in different colleges in Dalian. We hire them on a work-for-study program,” added Zhen. “The performance is free of charge for passengers.”
That's good, because we're not sure we'd pay to see them, anyway.
Dalian International Airport (website in simplified Chinese) is the biggest airport in northeastern China and the fourth busiest in China (by international passengers). The hub handled more than 12 million passengers in 2011.
Amid a current boom in aviation in China, flight delays are becoming a major sticking point for travelers in the country.
Poor weather, restricted military airspace and logistical issues regularly play havoc with airline schedules.
Statistics from the Civil Aviation Administration of China had almost one in four flights suffering delays last year. However, that only measures the time a plane's doors are closed, not when the aircraft actually took off.