Hong Kong (CNN) — A Hong Kong-based airline has apologized after it demanded a passenger take a test to prove she was not pregnant before boarding a flight to the US Pacific island of Saipan.
Low-cost carrier Hong Kong Express came under criticism after a 25-year-old Japanese woman said airline staff required her to take a “fit-to-fly” assessment, which included a pregnancy test, when she was checking in for a flight at Hong Kong International Airport.
Hong Kong Express has apologized for making a woman take a pregnancy test.
Paul Yeung/Bloomberg via Getty Images
The statement said the airline was under pressure from authorities in Saipan to step up checks on passengers.
“We took actions on flights to Saipan from February 2019 to help ensure US immigration laws were not being undermined,” it said.
“Under our new management, we recognize the significant concerns this practice has caused. We have immediately suspended the practice while we review it.”
Saipan, part of the US commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands, has emerged as a favorite destination for “birth tourism” — the practice of foreign nationals giving birth on US soil to ensure their babies become American citizens.
In recent years, birth tourism has become so rampant in the commonwealth that more babies are born to tourists than its permanent residents.