I know everyone is getting bored of Cathay, and I'm trying to get back on interesting strategic content, philosophy, etc. But hey, I want to give credit where it's due - they've started to de-escalate and get reasonable.
Some facts here are wrong, and there's some omissions. But anyways, I appreciate this Joseph.
I filmed a video reply (that's friendly!) and I'll post it later. Really, it's entertaining.
Anyways, they're originally saying I caused a gigantic disturbance and was a huge problem, then I said I was going to bring tons of legal action against them (which, y'know, usually means they'd want to preserve their leverage by holding everything over my head that they can), and yet now they just filed no complaints, no charges, and cleared me to fly. That's interesting, isn't it?
Subject: Re: MR SEBASTIAN MARSHALL - 26 December 2011 / KA 482 / Hong Kong to Taipei (KMM10053232I15977L0KM)
Date: January 4, 2012 11:02:28 AM GMT+08:00
Our Reference: 2998612
Mr Sebastian Marshall
By email: email@example.com
Dear Mr. Marshall
Thank you for your email.
I apologize for the formality of our response. However, as you have
stated you intend to see this settled via a legal challenge, we're
required to answer your enquiry in a more formal tone
I have gathered all the necessary reports regarding your flight KA 482
from Hong Kong to Taipei on 26 December 2011 and have obtained copies of
your Award ticket issued by British Airways (BA), and the Payment
Receipt of your inflight upgrade from Economy to Business Class on board
KA 991 from Beijing to Hong Kong on 26 December 2011.
You advise that you had requested for First/Business Class award
redemption with British Airways Frequent Flyer Programme (FFP) for your
itinerary. I regret that we do not have access to BAEC's FFP programme
and reservation system, and can only rely on the reservation record our
system received from BA. However, you may wish to clarify with BA in
respect of the class of ticket you should have been issued in the first
Our records confirm that you were holding an economy class award ticket
for the following itinerary:
26 December 2011 / KA 991 / Beijing to Hong Kong / Economy Class
26 December 2011 / KA 482 / Hong Kong to Taipei / Economy Class
4 January 2012 / CX 475 / Taipei to Hong Kong / Economy Class
4 January 2012 / KA 992 / Hong Kong to Beijing / Economy Class
You purchased an upgrade during your flight on Dragonair from Beijing to
Hong Kong at a cost of HK$2300. This was charged to your credit card and
our Inflight cabin crew issued you with a payment receipt (Slip No:
020157). It is indicated on the slip that the transaction was for an
upgrade to Business Class, for the Beijing to Hong Kong sector on 26
December 2011 flight only.
On board KA482 from Hong Kong to Taipei the same day, the cabin crew
reported that you seated yourself in the Business Class cabin but was
unable to present a Business Class boarding pass or air ticket. You
were asked to take your assigned seat as shown in your Economy Class
boarding pass but regrettably, you refused to adhere to the crew's
instruction citing that a mistake had been made by both British Airways
and Dragonair in Beijing. Repeated requests by our cabin crew, then
ground supervisor and finally the Captain of the flight was likewise
ignored by you. As your behaviour on board the flight was creating a
disturbance, regrettably we were left with no other recourse but to
request you to deplane and as you refused to do so, the assistance of
security and local authorities were reluctantly sought.
I would like to highlight that while we always aim to provide all our
passengers with an enjoyable and comfortable flight, our duty of care is
for all passengers and crew, neither of whom should be subjected to any
sort of disturbance or behaviour in a manner that affects the comfort of
everybody and of course the timely departure of flights.
I understand that you were invited to the office of the Airport Police
and after preliminary investigations, the Manager-on-Duty for Dragonair
decided not to submit a formal complaint against you for the incident.
The decision to refuse you carriage on board KA 482 on 26 December 2011
was reached after numerous failed attempts to gain your cooperation and
the decision was made in consultation between our ground supervisors,
Inflight supervisors and the Captain of the flight; in accordance with
our conditions of carriage Article 9.1 which is available at:
I note that you are currently holding a confirmed reservation for flight
KA 992 from Hong Kong to Beijing today, 4 January 2011, scheduled to
depart at 2:00 pm. I would like to share that you are not banned from
travel with Dragonair and can board this flight as booked.
I very much hope however that we will have your cooperation and your
travel to Beijing this afternoon will prove to be problem-free and
enjoyable in every respect.
Joseph Anthony Schaffel Gonzalez
Assistant Manager Customer Relations
Cathay Pacific Airways Limited
This message contains confidential information and is intended only for
the individual named. If you are not the named recipient, you must not
read, copy or otherwise use the contents of this message. Any
unauthorised use may lead to legal proceedings against you.
Email transmission cannot be guaranteed to be secure or error-free as
information could be intercepted, corrupted, lost, destroyed, incomplete
or contain viruses. The sender therefore does not accept liability for
any errors or omissions in the contents of this message which arise as a
result of email transmission.
Alright, you guys won't get too much more Cathay going forwards. I'll get back to strategy. A fun video later, though! Really, watch this one! :)
I came across your blog/website today (I know, it's about a month after you posted) and I seem to have identified several misunderstandings that you have of airline operations that may have contributed to this entire fiasco. It was still a very interesting debate nonetheless between you and Cathay.
Several of your posts say that you asked Cathay Pacific/Dragonair to upgrade you on your ticket although it was issued through British Airways as an award ticket. I see that in another post, you said that "What the hell it's bad service." when ticketing staff told you that it wasn't possible. You see, airlines have separate operations (even if they are part of an alliance, like BA and Cathay with oneworld) and seriously, if Cathay decided to cross their line of responsibility and amend that ticket, they're instantly in trouble with BA if anything goes wrong with the ticket. BA is the ticketing carrier and should be ultimately responsible for all changes needed to be made.
Cathay's Customer Relations response seems to indicate that you simply upgraded yourself without a valid Business Class boarding pass. Knowing Asian carriers, they strictly protect the integrity of the premium cabin - just search "self-upgrader airline" on Google and you'll see what I mean. And indeed as per the manager(s) you spoke to, company policy is more important than service in this case.
FYI, I'm not working for any airline but rather just a frequent flyer.
Sebastian, you might also consider reading this from the TripAdvisor website forums. It's about a woman's ordeal with AirAsia (where the woman is evicted for continuing to disobey the crew's instructions). I find it to be quite similar to your experience. The thread is originally started by the woman, but later an experienced member's girlfriend who [coincidentally] worked as a flight attendant on the same flight offers the airline's point of view.
I did not see where Cathay cleared you of wrongdoing. You thought you had a business class flight, when the receipt said you did not. You were probably occupying someone else's seat and were asked to move. You did not. You were lucky to have not been charged with criminal trespass.
I don't know you. You're probably a stand-up guy, and you just don't realize the magnitude of what Sebastian is fighting for. I don't even know Sebastian beyond the things he's written. But here's the thing:
Even if we ignore the fact that Joseph's email completely misrepresents Sebastian's side of the story (which I'm otherwise presuming to be the factual side of the story), it's blatantly obvious that the whole situation was instigated by the power-abusing mentality that apparently drives the underpinnings of at least a portion of Cathay management.
Do you realize how much abuse people take at airports for the sake of what's essentially a security theater? For that matter, do you realize how much abuse people take from unchecked authority in general? And here's Sebastian, one guy out of who knows how many, who is actually bothering to take the time, risk, and discomfort to stand up against the bullshit in the world.
I don't know if that affects you in a positive way, but it sure as hell helps me and a lot of other people. Maybe not directly, but at least it's something.
Sebastian: I know you're on a path, and I have a pretty good feeling you're not going to waiver from it. But even so, don't let anyone affect you by telling you that you made a mistake for standing up against corruption and wrongdoing. Thank you.
I must add: I like you and what you usually write. But don't you think you made mistakes in this case too?
Statement to the Hong Kong Police DepartmentRegarding the Abuse, Violence, Fraud, and Mis-Use of Police Resources by Cathay Pacific Management on 26th December 2011
My name is Sebastian Marshall. I am an American citizen who was traveling from Beijing to Taipei via Hong Kong on DragonAir, which is owned by Cathay Pacific Airways.
In Hong Kong, I questioned an abusive manager’s authority, and he immediately deployed police resources against me in retaliation. This led to my violent removal from the airplane, a fight almost broke out, and he recklessly endangered the health and safety of myself and other passengers. Cathay representatives went on to lie to the police and make outright false statements.
The dispute was after Cathay Pacific, in my opinion and view, had repeatedly made mistakes with my booking.
After Cathay refused to fix their mistakes two or three times, I paid additional money that in my opinion should have been unnecessary to fix the situation – but I was working on a piece of writing on Bruce Lee and American History, so I simply paid to be upgraded so I could continue my writing.
The Gulf Carriers and U.S. Airlines dispute between them is an old issue, but I thought that might be interesting enough to revisit again, due to the intensification of the clash between them, in the recent weeks.
In a Skift article, entitled "The U.S. Airlines’ Hypocrisy on Protectionism in the Skies", shows how the U.S. Carriers (the biggest ones: American, United and Delta) plan to limit the competition, mostly from the Middle East Carriers (Emirates, Etihad & Qatar Airways), claiming "unfair competition based on large government subsidies that put the domestic carriers at a disadvantage".
However, this also shows how hypocrite and short-minded are the U.S. Carriers, masquerading those protectionism as "free competition without subsidies from the government". However, as explained on a previous Op-Ed article (Op-Ed: The hypocrisy of Delta Air Lines (and other airlines) on Ex-Im Bank), some of the U.S. Carriers had Chapter 11 bankruptcies in the past, and some European airlines had government bailouts.
The consumer experience, as well-explained by the article, of U.S. Carriers, the majority of them, is just average to bad (one of the notable exceptions is JetBlue, which until sometime ago, started to have luggage fees). The main reason is, not only the bankruptcies, but also the need of cutting costs.
Unlike the Gulf Carriers, which had a better flying consumer experience, with for example, Etihad offering amenity kits for the Economy Class, which neither of the U.S. Carriers offers. And, unlike the Carriers said, for example, Emirates contracts personnel from the various countries in the world, and most of them are very skilled.