A Taichung aviation police officer has bought a flight ticket for a penniless Hong Kong student and made an exception for her to stay in the airport lobby overnight, after she found out her travel permit had expired and sought help from authorities.

The 22-year-old girl, surnamed Poon, attends a university in southern Taiwan and was scheduled to return to Hong Kong for summer break on July 12. Upon arriving at Taichung Airport, Poon realised that her Taiwanese travel permit had expired, but she was cashless and unable to access her credit card, according to Taiwanese newspapers.

An aviation police officer, Kang Zhijia, lent Poon TWD$1,000 (approximately HK$245) and asked her to look for a hostel nearby while she waited to get her new travel permit the following day.

Poon appears to thank Kang before she leaves for her flight.

But all the hostels nearby were fully booked and visitors are not allowed to stay at the airport overnight, so Poon returned to the police station for assistance. Worried that it might not be safe for Poon to remain outside the airport without accommodation, Kang made an exception and let her stay in the lobby, according to Taiwanese media.

Poon received the new travel permit the next day, but was then told at the airline counter that her flight ticket had expired. She sought help again from the police station, so Kang bought her a TWD$5,000 (approximately HK$1230) air ticket.

CCTV footage released by the aviation police bureau shows that Poon bowed to Kang before she finally boarded a flight to Hong Kong. Poon reportedly said that she was grateful for Kang’s help and promised to give him back the money when she returns for the fall semester.

Taichung aviation police chief commended Kang’s acts of kindness, and said that the officer did not expect Poon to return the money.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.