China News Network, May 5 Comprehensive report, on May 24, some netizens posted on social platforms, saying that flight attendants on Cathay Pacific flight CX5 from Chengdu to Hong Kong discriminated against "non-English speaking passengers". The incident continued to ferment and attracted widespread attention from the outside world. At present, Cathay Pacific, the Chief Executive of the Hong Kong SAR Government, the Secretary for Transport and Logistics of Hong Kong, and the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission have successively responded to this matter.

Timeline of the "Cathay Pacific Flight Attendants Discriminate Against Non-English Speaking Passengers" incident

Cathay Pacific apologized three times and fired the three flight attendants involved

Some mainland netizens posted on social platforms that they took Cathay Pacific flight CX21 from Chengdu, Sichuan to Hong Kong on the 987st, and the seats were just in the last row near the flight attendants to prepare meals and rest places. He released a detailed 31-second recording in which flight attendants could be heard complaining about passengers in English and Cantonese during the flight, claiming that "if they can't say 'blanket' in English, then they don't deserve blankets"; There are also flight attendants who mock passengers for not being able to distinguish between "carpet" and "blanket".

Cathay Pacific infographic. Image source: Cathay Pacific official website

The netizen said that the cause should be that some passengers tried to use English words they could use, and wanted to get blankets from these "English-only" flight attendants, but they were ridiculed. In addition, nearby passengers also received impatient answers when they tried to ask the flight attendants in English how to fill out the arrival card.

On the evening of the 22nd, Cathay Pacific issued a statement saying that it had learned of the passenger's unpleasant experience on flight CX987, and the company apologized for this, and contacted the relevant passenger to further understand the situation, and will conduct a serious investigation.


Cathay Pacific statement

On the 23rd, Cathay Pacific issued another statement saying that it had contacted passengers as soon as possible, and had suspended the flight mission of the flight attendants, immediately launched an internal investigation, and would announce the results within three days.

That evening, Cathay apologized three times and issued a statement dismissing the three flight attendants involved. Cathay Pacific Chief Executive Officer Lim said in a statement that he will lead an inter-departmental working group to conduct a comprehensive review, re-examine the company's service processes, personnel training and related systems, and further improve Cathay Pacific's service quality. Most important is ensuring that all Cathay Pacific employees respect travelers from diverse backgrounds and cultures and provide professional and consistent service across all service areas.

Hong Kong Chief Executive: This incident is a serious incident

Hong Kong Chief Executive John Lee Ka-chiu said today (24th) that he was saddened by the experience of passengers on Cathay Pacific flight CX5 on May 21. He said that the words and deeds of the cabin crew involved hurt the feelings of Hong Kong and mainland compatriots and undermined Hong Kong's culture and values of respect and courtesy.

Screenshot of Li Jiachao's Weibo

Mr Lee said he had raised the issue with Cathay Pacific's chief executive, Mr Lam Siu-bo, that the incident was a serious incident that Cathay Pacific needed to review and that a similar situation could not be repeated.

Secretary for Transport and Logistics of Hong Kong: Management has been asked to improve services immediately

Hong Kong Secretary for Transport and Logistics, Lam Sai-hung, issued a statement on the evening of the 23rd, saying that he was very saddened by the inappropriate remarks of some Cathay Pacific flight staff, which seriously violated Hong Kong's excellent hospitality, consistent values and moral standards.

Screenshot of the press release of the HKSAR Government.

Lim pointed out that he has expressed great concern to Cathay Pacific and asked the management to improve the service immediately. In addition, Lim Sai Hung is aware that Cathay Pacific has dismissed the crew involved and will make a comprehensive review in light of the incident, including re-examining its service processes, personnel training and relevant systems to improve service quality. It is hoped that the review will be completed as soon as possible and will fundamentally improve the company's system and staff attitude, so as to live up to Hong Kong's reputation as an international aviation hub and a city of hospitality.

Hong Kong EOC: Service providers requiring customers to use a certain language may constitute indirect discrimination

Mr Chu Man-kin, Chairman of the Hong Kong Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), said on a radio programme today (24 December) that if a service provider requires customers to make a need in a certain language without credentials, it will be difficult for customers of a certain type or background to meet the relevant conditions, and thus suffer unfair treatment or may constitute indirect discrimination.

Asked whether it would constitute discrimination if the cabin crew involved was just joking and did not actually impose relevant conditions, Chu Minjian replied that as long as there is a relevant consensus among service providers, it is already possible to constitute the basic factor of discrimination, but the EOC must receive and verify the complaint before confirming and distinguishing the facts.

Chu Minjian said that as an international metropolis, Hong Kong's way of hospitality is to understand and meet the needs of customers as much as possible, and if customers are unilaterally required to speak a certain language, otherwise they refuse to provide services, it is obviously unkind and unreasonable.