Skip to main content

Beijing's Lido Hotel a grim backdrop as relatives cling to hope

By Peter Shadbolt, for CNN
updated 10:15 PM EDT, Wed March 19, 2014
  • Relatives of those onboard Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 still awaiting news
  • Many express dissatisfaction with the way information on the search has been handled
  • Speculation the plane may have been hijacked has fueled hopes it may still be found
  • Relatives have turned to WeChat to exchange information on the missing plane

(CNN) -- From the flat-screen TV and complimentary water bottles to the bedside console with an array of switches that control your tiny hotel room universe, Chinese hotels have a staggering uniformity.

The Metro Park Lido Hotel in Beijing might be a cut above the average, but as with many hotels in China, it's a variation on a theme.

With its gold and green carpet, faux mahogany fittings and bleak luxury goods stores, it now provides a somber backdrop to the daily briefings on the fate of the missing Malaysian airliner.

As the search dragged into its tenth day, ashen-faced relatives trickled out of Sunday's briefing after they were told they should consider returning home. For many of the 500 relatives in Beijing hanging onto any scrap of news, it was taken as a further sign that hopes are fading.

For some of the relatives, even speculation the plane might have been hijacked is a best case scenario.

READ MORE: Flight 370 hijacking theories: Improbability or best hope?

Finding Flight 370
Tracking Malaysia Air flight 370
Private ships search for missing flight

"Maybe the plane landed on a small island in the Indian Ocean and all the passengers are there. Maybe they are still alive. Maybe they will be back. It's a 50/50 chance," Steve Wang, whose mother was aboard Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370, told CNN.

He said news the aircraft last made satellite contact at 8.11am -- nearly seven hours after it lost contact with air traffic control -- had provided a glimmer of hope.

"I was not only surprised, but hopeful. I think it is good news. They (possible hijackers) must have had a target where to bring the plane," he said. "I don't want to guess what happened. But if it was a kidnapping, the plane would not just fall into the ocean."

An only son whose father is awaiting news at his home in Beijing, Wang did not want give his mother's full name because many of their relatives still don't know she was on the flight.

Meanwhile, keeping body and soul together in the Lido has been a full-time job.

"I wake up 2 to 3 times a night. But I am trying to get more sleep and eat healthily. I tell myself to stay healthy for my mother so when she returns, I can take care of her."

READ MORE: Malaysia Flight 370: Amid a sea of questions, 28 of the most compelling

Dissatisfaction with the daily briefings boiled over into anger on Sunday when angry relatives accused the Malaysian government of deliberately withholding information on the fate of the airliner.

"Take a look! How many of us (have) already lost patience with you and already lost trust in you," one man shouted at the family briefing Sunday, bringing many of the relatives to their feet. "What we ask for is the truth! Don't hide things from us!"

The timing of briefings, they complain, has not been consistent and they also want to be able to question Malaysian government representatives directly. While the Malaysian ambassador has twice fronted the daily news conference, relatives are dissatisfied with the official response.

Maybe the plane landed on a small island in the Indian Ocean and all the passengers are there.
Steve Wang

"We urge the Malaysian government to report the (search) results immediately," one angry relative demanded. "They have to take responsibility, they definitely have to take responsibility."

Spread out at various hotels in Beijing, the relatives collect at the Lido for the 6pm briefings but most prefer to exchange what little information they have on WeChat. There are now 400 of them communicating via the mobile chat app.

In the absence of any reliable information, the other relatives collecting in the marble halls of the Lido Hotel are all Wang has to cling on to.

"I find strength being around the other families. We try to help each other. When I see someone is struggling, I tell them 'I am in the same position. My mother is on the plane too. We have to stay healthy for them.'"

READ MORE: Lives, not numbers: Snapshots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 passengers

CNN's Pauline Chiou and Yuli Yang in Beijing contributed to this report

Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:11 PM EDT, Thu June 26, 2014
The search for MH370 is moving to an area farther south in the Indian Ocean, said the Australian Deputy Prime Minister.
updated 8:33 PM EDT, Tue June 24, 2014
Erin Burnett speaks to Miles O'Brien about the latest in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.
updated 12:53 PM EDT, Wed June 18, 2014
Ten experts say that the search for MH370 should move hundreds of miles away from the previous search area.
updated 9:22 AM EDT, Tue June 17, 2014
His wife never came home from her flight on MH370, and now K.S. Narendran is left to imagine the worst of possible truths without knowing.
updated 3:51 PM EDT, Mon June 16, 2014
Families are desperate for results as the search for MH370 reaches a grim milestone. Anna Coren reports from Beijing.
updated 10:55 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
Relatives of passengers are launching an effort to raise $5 million for investigations and a "whistle blower" reward.
updated 3:31 AM EDT, Mon June 9, 2014
Making sure another plane is never "lost" again is the immediate priority for the airline industry.
updated 11:36 AM EDT, Fri May 30, 2014
This handout photo taken on April 7, 2014 and released on April 9, 2014 by Australian Defence shows Maritime Warfare Officer, Sub Lieutenant Ryan Penrose watching HMAS Success as HMAS Perth approaches for a replenishment at sea while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean. Two fresh signals have been picked up Australian ship Ocean Shield in the search for missing Malaysian flight MH370, raising hopes that wreckage will be found within days even as black box batteries start to expire.
Was the sound of Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 striking the water captured by ocean devices used to listen for signs of nuclear blasts?
updated 6:29 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
What was believed to be the best hope of finding the missing plane is now being called a false hope. Rene Marsh explains.
updated 5:05 PM EDT, Wed May 28, 2014
Involved parties, including the manufacturer Boeing, are bracing for a long public relations siege.
updated 7:34 AM EDT, Thu May 29, 2014
Official: The four acoustic pings at the center of the search for Flight 370 are no longer believed to have come from the plane's black boxes.
updated 10:21 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
There is one fundamental question which continues to swirl: Has Inmarsat got its numbers right?
updated 8:13 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Data from communications between satellites and missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 was released
updated 3:42 AM EDT, Tue May 27, 2014
Family members of the people aboard missing plane want independent investigators to review the newly released satellite data.
updated 7:47 AM EDT, Wed May 21, 2014
CNN's Richard Quest explains what kind of information should be contained in the Inmarsat data from Flight MH370.
updated 8:46 PM EDT, Mon May 26, 2014
The underwater search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane will effectively be put on hold this week, and may not resume until August at the earliest.
updated 9:04 AM EDT, Mon May 19, 2014
Movie-makers in Cannes have announced they're making a thriller based on the disappearance of Malaysian flight MH370.
updated 3:25 PM EDT, Tue May 6, 2014
The search for the missing Boeing 777 has gone on for eight weeks now. CNN's David Molko looks back at this difficult, emotional assignment.