The Massive Amount Of Oranges Four Travelers Ate To Avoid Baggage Fees

A few days ago, four coworkers returning from their trip to Yunnan, China ran into difficulty at an airport in Kunming. The problem, as the Global Times reported, was that they were attempting to travel with a box containing 30 kilograms of oranges, which approximately translates to a whopping 66 pounds. Their airline was asking for a luggage fee of 300 yuan, or 10 yuan for every kilo of oranges. This, as the Global Times converts it, came out to $46.38.

However, the travelers could not afford the hefty fee. The group proceeded to consume the 66 pounds of oranges at the airport in just under 30 minutes. Afterward, they reportedly experienced ulcers in the mouth. One traveler admitted, "We never want to have any oranges again." An online commenter quoted by the Global Times wondered why the group did not simply divide the oranges into hand luggage between them.

Choosing to eat souvenirs rather than paying an airline fee or tossing them out is not entirely unheard of. Many may remember the passenger who chugged an entire bottle of cognac in another Chinese airport in 2015. Her story, as Food & Wine reported at the time, ended with its own self-inflicted damage, as she became too intoxicated for the crew to allow her onto the flight.

But why travel with so many oranges?

The sources that have relayed this orange story, such as Fox, recount the tale of airport overconsumption without pausing to ask the somewhat obvious question: Why did these coworkers bring 66 pounds worth of oranges home with them?

The answer seems to be that Yunnan, the province of which Kunming is the capital, has a long history with oranges. The history stretches so far back, in fact, that a paper published in Nature suggests that the citrus family likely originated somewhere in the Himalayan foothills, northern Myanmar, and in western Yunnan.

While Brazil and the United States have since overtaken China in orange production (via World Atlas), the cultivation of oranges and other produce remains a prominent economic activity for the region. According to South China Morning Post, the Yunnan region was once the seat of successful entrepreneur Chu Shijian's orange empire.

Yunnan boasts a great variety of fruit beyond oranges, as the Yunnan Visitor Website insists. Due to a climate that averages above 60 degrees and, according to China Highlights, rarely rises above a high of 75 or drops below 34, fruit is plentiful throughout the year. Given that context, perhaps it's not so surprising that visitors would attempt to travel with over 60 pounds of these famed oranges.