Legal counsel has advised me not to release any transcripts aboard the plane until civil and criminal investigations are concluded. The police have already told me I committed no crimes that they're aware of and won't be held or charged, but we will be pursuing Cathay's management and security team.
I'll be releasing what transcripts I can.
Everyone was notified the audio recorder was on repeatedly, and it was held prominently in view. This transcript was made by someone who has English as a second language, and minor grammar errors are here, but this gets the general details of the discussion. This is immediately following removal from the airplane.
Location: Hong Kong Airport
SM: Okay, they're taking me off. Okay, thank you guys, thank you, see you later. Alright, i'm under arrest.
SM: Alright, thank you.
SM: Okay, thank you. Bye.
(many): (shouting in Cantonese)
(SM and officers and other Cathay crew are attending outside of the plane)
SM: Thank you sir.
Unknown in background: (…Cantonese…)
Unknown in background: (…the flight manager…)
SM (to officer): Dui bu qui [Sorry in Chinese], Dui bu qui .
SM (picking up bag): They gave me my bag back.
SM (to officer): Dui bu qui, thank you, i have no problem with you, no problem with you.
Officer: Why you..?
SM: I think you can't treat people like that.
Officer: No, no, no… Did you have any misunderstanding with the staff..?
SM: So if i complain to corporate, what would they do? They would say sorry, but that's what happened and we're not gonna change. But if you make a scene, they will change now…
Officer: Your ticket is only a… it's not, a…
SM: You know, it was a mistake, they made a mistake, and i already bought a higher ticket. The mistake, they already made a mistake, and i already bought a bigger ticket after the mistake.
Officer: If they made a mistake, you can complain later.
SM: They won't change, they won't change. They threatened me. They said they police are going to take me off the plane if i didn't do it his way, and i think he's wrong. I'm willing to stand up against that.
Officer: But you can't waste our time.
SM: I know, i'm sorry, i don't want to waste your time. You're a police officer, i respect you..
Officer: Yeah, because you disturb the whole, the other passengers, okay?
SM: I don't know. Did i or did he? [pointing at Murphy Chan]
SM: I and he, i don't know, i think he's a bad guy.
Officer: You want to sit in the commercial…
SM: I already paid for it. And he insulted me and threatened me.
(Officers and other people are talking in Cantonese)
Officer: Maybe in the early, you made a mistake,
SM: Somebody made a mistake, that's for sure.
(Officers taking SM to ...)
SM: Alright, thanks guys.
SM: Thanks for , they're putting their hands on me. These guys are very strong guys, we're having a good time.
SM (loudly holding recorder up): This all are being recorded, everybody.
(Sounds of plane ramp rescinding)
(Everyone walking towards … )
(Radios in the background)
SM: Now we're standing here, the plane is going away. It's… it's 40 minutes after the original departure time, the whole incident took 40 minutes. And there's one, two three, four, five police officers. And there's one, two, three, four, five, six Cathay staff, we're standing in hong Kong.
SM: I don't know if there's any flight flying to Taipei tonight. I don't know what's gonna happen, if I'm going to be taken to jail or a manager. I'm not really sure, hmm, i'm not sure what's going to happen. This is the fifth or sixth recording, we're going to keep this running, they're going to try to figure out what to do with me.
SM: The police are being very professional and courteous, i have no problems with the police. I mean, they have to do their jobs.
(Officers and Cathay staff are taking in Cantonese)
Officer: Do you know what the staff, they explained it? That you only paid one trip for commercial not the two, not the whole trip…
SM: I just gave them my credit card, i asked them to call British, they said no [after the first mistake], then i just gave them my credit card, and i said: "Fine, because i have work to do." I was writing a piece about American history.
(Officers and Cathay staff talking in Cantonese)
SM: I'm a writer, right? You know, I'm a writer? I'm writer. You know i write books and…
Officer: Do you have your receipt?
SM (gesturing to Murphy): I think he has my receipt, i gave it to him, he took it from me.
SM: I don't know, so, yeah, i had one. I had it, now i don't.
Officer: Because the staff chatted that you only paid for one trip …
SM (gesturing at Murphy Chan): Do you understand? Do you understand that the problem is this guy threatened me and insulted me. I think they made mistakes, maybe they think I made mistakes, but then he threatens me…
Officer: You know if he's very impolite, you can complain. You can complaint if they're very impolite. But you can't do it like this!
Another Officer: Okay, okay. Gentlemen...
SM: Does complaining change things? So you're a police officer right?
Officer: Yes, police officer.
SM: If there's a criminal who is robbing a bank, do you say "Hey, cut it out."
Officer: This time, not a criminal. I don't think he's..
SM: I think he's a bad guy, i think he's a bad guy.
SM: So if there's a guy robbing a bank, you'll do whatever you need to do, they attack people, they can't act like this. I'm telling you officer, I can't let them act like this, they can't act like this, it's not okay. If i complain, nothing will change. Now things will change.
Officer: You can complain to the company!
SM: Have you ever write a complaint about a company before? Have you ever done that?
Officer: But this is a form of revolution! Okay?
SM: I think i'm the good guy.
Officer: Also the police, also the seaten complaining about the impolite like this, also have a complaint.
SM: If i wrote a complaint to Cathay, If i wrote a complaint to Cathay, you know what would happen?
SM: You know what would happen? Nothing! Nothing will happen. They will just send a letter saying "We're sorry that this happened. The ticket was your fault, goodbye."
Officer: Now the staff said that you only paid one trip, this trip, you didn't pay for upgrade, therefore you have to pay…
SM: Hold on, hold on, hold on.
Officer: But you don't have a receipt.
SM: I do, i do. i gave it to him, i don't know. I gave it to him my tickets. I don't know. I gave it to him, I said here you go, and he said: "Blah blah blah blah blah" [unhelpful noises], so i don't know.
(Officers are talking)
SM: If i talk to the corporate, nothing will change. Now, something will change. After today, they will change and be better to people.
SM: Look. If this is you, and you're going on vacation, after you just work for 30 days straight, and you get to the airport, and they made mistakes, and they refuse to fix it, and then you paid them money...
SM: So, they made a mistake to start, they refuse to fix it. I paid them [more] money, they made a mistake again, and then he threatened me, and he said: "Protecting the company's policy is more important than service." So I said: Ok, then have me arrested.
SM (to Murphy Chan): You're a jerk.
SM (to officer, pointing at Murphy Chan): Him.
Officer: This is a misunderstanding.
SM: Oh, it's a lot more than that. He believes in authority and not humanity.
SM: He thinks he's in charge, and i think he should be good to people he's bad to people. So, it's different culture, maybe i'm american , maybe we're crazy, i don't know.
Officer: No, no, no. Don't worry, okay?
(Officers talk in Cantonese)
SM: So what's going on, am i under arrest? What's happening? I don't know. I'm off the plane now. I was going to meet my girlfriend in Taipei.
(Officers talk in Cantonese, "Senior Officer" in English)
SM: I'll follow your instructions, you know, i'm with you now.
Officer: Yeah, I'm a police officer. You're going to meet our senior officer, okay? Follow his instructions, they…okay?
Officer: Yeah, you see.
SM: Yeah, okay. I see. It'll be nice to meet him, i'm Sebastian, by the way.
Officer: He's going to help you. Don't worry, police are going to help.
SM: My mother is a government agent. She's like police.
Officer: Okay. I think this is only a misunderstanding.
SM: But they're bad.
Officer: This is only a manner, only a manner. They think the staff is very impolite, is it?
SM: Well, they threatened me. Threatened. Threatened. They made a mistake, i think. And then threatened. And bad service, and then threatened me.
Officer: You can complain, but you not like this.
SM: But if i complain, would they change?
Officer: Yeah, Sergeant.
SM: Would they change if i made a complaint? No, they wouldn't.
Officer: Maybe. Maybe (officer laughs)
(Other officer laughs)
SM: Come on! Come on!
Officer: But this is a form of revolution!
SM: Well, now there's something. They gotta deal with it now. By the way, i'm recording this, it's okay? I don't know, i just kicked off et plane.
Officer: Do you think you're going to change to another flight?
SM: I don't know. I'm not thinking that far. Just... principles.
Officer: Because they showed you they only upgrade for one flight...
SM: They threatened me and insulted me… no. Not okay.
Officer: I think this is only a mistake, because you're misunderstanding, because you only upgraded one. You think i upgraded two, the whole trip, but only the half trip, okay?
SM: So if a guy said to you, if a guy said to you "Do it my way or i will hit you", would you do it? Even he was right, would you do it? As soon as i'm threatened, the answer is no. What I told him, i told him i would move to the back or get off, if he just write down the story and sign it. Just so I could make a complaint. He refused.
Officer: You ...
SM: Hold on. I told he just to write down what happened and sign it, and i will go the back and i will get off, and he said no. I got that on audio. He refused to make a record.
Other officer: You can make a record.
SM: He refused to make a record.
Other Officer: We'll make a record.
SM: I know. I understand. I appreciate that. Thank you.
Other Officer: Don't worry.
Officer: Don't worry, okay?
Other officer: I told them, "What arrangement for you?" We're trying to make arrangements for you because the flight already took off, it's gone.
SM: I don't know. I haven't thought that far ahead, and i'm just here standing up against this.
(Inspector Lai arrives)
Lai: Inspector Lai,
SM: Sebastian Marshall. Nice to meet you inspector.
Lai: So you're coming from Beijing to..
SM: Yes, i'm flying from Beijing to Taipei, a vacation in Taipei. So there was a mistake was made. I think by them. i asked for help, they said no. I paid more money. And then they made another mistake. Yeah, so they made two, i think.
SM: Right, and then i've been told by the guy that "You have to do it my way or off the plane, and i will have the police come here to drag you off."
SM (holding up recorder): Hi inspector, i'm recording this, just to let you know. Inspector is a very civil and reasonable guy, so as you see this is recording, i'm not joking around.
SM (to Lai): You see this is recording?
Lai: Yeah, it's okay.
SM: So i thought they made mistakes, twice. And he threatened me and said that he's going to call the police and i think that's bad. So said to him "I'll go in the back, but i need you to write down what happened, on a piece of paper and sign it"
Lai: on a piece of paper?
SM: Yeah. Write it on a piece of paper and sign your name on it. And i'll go get to the back or i'll get off the plane, either one. But he refused.
SM: What he said verbally, he refused to write it down. So i think he's being a liar and a bad person. so i said no, i'm going to start recording this, and i'm gonna create a record, because he won't. I told him, if you write down "Sebastian (my name is Sebastian), Sebastian thinks a mistake was made, and then Sebastian asked for help help in Beijing, and they said no, and Sebastian paid more money, so Sebastian came to Hong Kong, so Sebastian thinks another mistake was being made, And we don't care…" If you don't write that down, the company's policy says that you're wrong, If you write that down, i'll either sit in the economy or get off the plane, whatever you want.
(Officer instructs SM to move)
SM: Sure thing, sir.
(Inspector Lai talks to someone else in Cantonese)
(People are walking, recording ends)
Seriously Sebastian, get it together. This blog came from "awesome strategic adventures of a cool guy' to a simple minded, one track record ' boo hoo a huge company abused me somewhat'. Is this what the greatest strategist of my generation supposed to be talking about?
I agree with this. I really like your blog and read it since more than 1 year already (got "Get Some Victory • ISSUE #8" on 2 january 2011). But it seems that now you want to replicate the huge buzz you got from the "Simon and Schuster" story.
Hmm, just today I was reading Ikigai and came across your excellent "lone wolf" essay - following your quest, etc. It was really inspirational - like, made me decide just to make one new years resolution this year - starting an entrepreneurial venture - and make everything else a tool to that end. Gonna go to the gym more? Sure, health = more energy = benefit to launching the business.
I mention this because - I don't see how fighting Cathay really helps your goals. Simon and Schuster I get - it's clear those guys are in the wrong, their industry is completely broken, and since they're on the wrong side of history, they've been dead in the water for a while.
With Cathay, it's a bit less clear to an outside observer what's going on. The Cathay manager sounds like an asshole but, still, in that situation I'd have just moved to the back. You can't fight every war. Maybe that's cowardly, I dunno, but I just think your energies would be better spent on fighting S&S and working on your other projects. I think the main difference is while I believe you were in the right, it might not look that way to an outside observer.
Keep fighting the good fight, anyway.
Everyone I know is terrified of air travel.
They have infinite power and zero accountability.
When you're in an airport, you're at the mercy of the people there. If they don't like what you're doing, they can do anything they want to you, and you have no recourse.
I understand the necessity of that coercive power - but such immense power requires immense accountability.
I recently began a quest to become a deputized police officer. I want to get a police badge so that I can enjoy whatever perks come along with it, but also I'm fascinated to find out more about the police. As part of the process of getting the badge I will have to undergo standard police training and will actually do some policework every month.
I've been jumping with excitement over this new discovery. I can't wait to become a police officer. I mean, who wouldn't want a police badge?