Cathay Pacific has fired a group of flight attendants who have been accused of making fun of passengers on a recent flight from the Chinese city of Chengdu to Hong Kong over their English language proficiency.
A flight attendant is apparently heard informing a passenger in a now-viral clip on a well-known Chinese social media network that they can’t have a blanket unless they use the correct English word after the passenger unintentionally referred to it as a “carpet”
“If you cannot say ‘blanket’ in English, you cannot have it,” a person in the unverified recording says while giggling and laughing with a group of other people. The recording has sparked widespread outrage at the apparent discrimination.
Mandarin is the primary language of many mainland Chinese passengers on flights to Hong Kong, but Cantonese and English are the most widely spoken languages in Hong Kong.
“If you cannot say ‘blanket’ in English, you cannot have it”
From alleged recording of Hong Kong airline @cathaypacific inflight crew insulting Mainland Chinese passengers “for hours” over their English, making comments such as “they cannot understand things in human ways” pic.twitter.com/HyL4GY92Q0
— Cyril Ip (@cyril_ip) May 23, 2023
On the Chengdu to Hong Kong flight, a customer who did not understand English as their first language attempted to request a blanket but inadvertently requested a “carpet,” prompting alleged mockery from the cabin crew.
They claim that one of the crew members invited them to lay on the floor if they preferred a carpet to a blanket.
The airline swiftly grounded the involved flight attendants while conducting an internal investigation in response to the uproar. A representative for the airline said, “Any speech or behavior that violates our policies or code of conduct, when confirmed, will be dealt with seriously and diligently,”
“We have contacted relevant passengers to learn more about the situation and will investigate and handle the incident seriously,” a statement from Cathay Pacific continued. “We once again express our deep apologies for the trouble this incident has caused to everyone.”
After the pandemic restrictions were eased, Cathay Pacific is attempting to quickly restore its global network after being hit by protracted pandemic restrictions. Although the mainland Chinese market for Cathay Pacific is still very significant, persistent discrimination issues have occasionally damaged the carrier’s standing with mainland tourists.