Cathay Pacific apologizes over crew’s alleged discrimination

The alleged discrimination described how the flight attendants kept complaining in English and Cantonese about passengers who didn't speak English well on a flight.


A cargo aircraft operated by Cathay Pacific takes off from Hong Kong International Airport in Hong Kong, June 9, 2020. [Photo/CFP]

May 24, 2023

HONG KONG – Cathay Pacific Airways, the largest airline in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, issued two statements of apology on Monday and Tuesday, respectively, and launched an internal investigation after an online post accused flight attendants from the airline of discrimination against non-English speaking passengers, according to media reports.

In the statement issued on Tuesday, Cathay Pacific apologized again and updated its handling of the incident that allegedly happened on Flight CX987 on Sunday. According to the statement, the cabin crew members involved in the incident have been suspended and an internal investigation has been carried out immediately. The airline also said it will publish the results in three days and vowed to seriously deal with any improper behavior or language.

The airline reiterated that it attaches great importance to this incident and the company has contacted passengers concerned for further information, which was also mentioned in the earlier apology statement.

The alleged discrimination was posted on social media on Monday. The writer, who is fluent in Mandarin, English and Cantonese, described in the post how the flight attendants kept complaining in English and Cantonese about passengers who didn’t speak English well when taking Flight CX987 on Sunday. Seated in the back row, the writer overheard conversations like “If you cannot say blanket, you cannot have it” and “The carpet is on the floor”. A voice recording of the incident was shared by the writer in another post.

The writer speculated that the concerned passenger was trying to get a blanket using known English words but was laughed at by the attendants who “can only speak English.”

The writer also mentioned another passenger was answered abruptly when inquiring about how to fill out the landing card.

In the post, the writer said it was upsetting that the attendants were so malicious to passengers who couldn’t speak English or Cantonese and that they lacked even basic respect to passengers. The writer reported the behavior to the chief steward before leaving the plane and would also make a formal complaint about it.

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