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Cathay Pacific / poor and rude customer service

1 Malaysia Review updated:
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Let me introduce myself: I am an Executive Director of a Mlaysian public listed company, who travels frequently in excess of 150, 000 km a year, and is member /card holder of several airlines: Cathay Pacific (Asia Miles no. [protected]), China Airlines (Emerald Dynasty Flyer SK 0048 172), Malaysia Airlines (Enrich Platinum no. MH [protected]), Singapore Airlines (KrisFlyer no. [protected]), China Southern Airlines (Sky Pearl Club no. [protected]).

On 6th August ’08 morning about 8.15am, I was queuing up at the Cathay Pacific Business check-in counter at KLIA for flight CX 720 departing 9.25am to Hong Kong thereafter onwards to Koahsiung by CI 626. I was taken aback as against the norm; there was a queue at the business counter, and also a very long one at the economy counter.

After queuing for some minutes I noticed a small word at the bottom of the TV display screen above the counter, reading “cancelled”. There was no staff to inform us in the queue, what the problem was, and what arrangements for the travelers were. The counter staff was busy engaging with the traveler one at a time, but each traveler would take a long time. As I had an important business meeting in Koahsiung, I couldn’t wait any longer in the dark, and at 9 am I cut the queue and approached the counter to enquire the situation.

Ms Susan answered me very briefly while she was attending to another traveler. She requested me to come back at an hour’s time, purportedly she would try to put me on another airline, the Malaysia Airlines flying to Koahsiung via Kota Kinabalu taking off at 12 noon. I told her if that was the arrangement, then a booking of seat must be secured now, but she just couldn’t spare the time to do it!

I was very disappointed with the service, if I didn’t go to the MAS counter myself and book a seat, I can’t guess in an hour’s time whether there would be any seat left. Why the Cathay Pacific staffs were not prepared for any crisis management? If the travelers were told beforehand (ie while we were in the queue) what sort of arrangement Cathay staffs were contemplating at least we could decide whether there were any other choices.

As it panned out I flew MAS flight MH 086 at 12 noon, and reached Koahsiung at 6.50pm instead of originally scheduled to reach at 4.35pm. I missed the meeting with my staff in the evening. It was very frustrating experience of inefficient service and uncaring attitude towards customers.

To add salt to injury, I had another encounter of rude treatment at the boarding gate no. 28 at Hong Kong airport for flight no. CX 725 travelling back to KL on 8th August 08. Both the Business and Economy boarding counters were jammed with economy travelers. I have to queue behind the economy travelers to board; even I waved and signaled my business boarding card at the staff, he wouldn’t pay any attention! How could he be so indifferent or even assume that there was no business traveler?

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Comments

  • St
      25th of Aug, 2008
    0 Votes

    copy of my latest sagaI am writing to complain about the unacceptable service received from you during the recent typhoon in Hong Kong.
    I am a frequent business class traveller. Your sales team approached my firm many times as they know very well how much we spend with your competitors and as a result I have just flown TPE to MAN (connecting via HKG, LHR with BA). I have two further trips already booked with you – TPE to LAX
    VQ6PZE/02 TPEOU 79V2002 AG 34303522 21AUG
    1.1FENTON/STEPHENMR
    1. CX 421 D 27AUG TPEHKG HK1 1205 1345 O* E WE
    2. CX 882 D 27AUG HKGLAX HK1 1615 1415 O* E WE
    3. AA 7587 Y 27AUG LAXMFR HK1 2040 2250 O* E WE
    OPERATED BY HORIZON AIR
    4. AA 7590 Y 01SEP MFRLAX HK1 0700 0910 O* E MO
    OPERATED BY HORIZON AIR
    5. CX 885 D 01SEP LAXHKG HK1 1310 #1855 O* E MO
    6. CX 468 D 02SEP HKGTPE HK1 1955 2140 O* E TU
    TPE to KUL (sorry don’t have the itinerary at hand right now) between now and October. I am the owner of a manufacturing & exporting company in Taiwan and apart from myself I am also responsible for purchasing tickets on behalf of my staff and customers. This equates to around 150 business class tickets a year for long haul flights.
    My complaints concern your service on the inbound part of a TPE - MAN return on 21 August 2008 ref MHLRCU
    1. I checked in at MAN 11.30 am and specifically asked check-in staff if there was any problem with my itinerary because of the typhoon. If they had told me there was, then I would have been happy to have stayed in MAN at my own expense and fly later. But, after phone calls to your office at LHR, they assured me my itinerary was OK. Yes they also pointed out I was flying on to TPE. Though it was a BA flight, you issued the ticket and BA is an oneworld partner. Why were they wrongly informed? It was apparent later that at this time you had already decided that you would deny me at LHR and it seems BA had done their best to contact you. At LHR, I was told at the transit desk to go outside to the T3 check-in desks. I was asked to wait a few minutes, but this turned into a 6 hour nightmare. Passengers were forced to wait in what amounted to a cattle pen. When asked if it was OK to leave the area to go and get a drink we were told not to do so because staffs were trying to sort flights out and might need to get back to us. At the same time, your staffs were unable to provide us with any refreshment or seating. After some 3 hours we still had no information. The time was now around 5.30pm. It turned into a total free for all with those shouting loudest getting attention. People expecting to board the 8.20pm flight were taken care of before people waiting for the 6.20pm flight. Your ground staff lacked the supervision and training to handle a situation like this. Is this the way you treat your customers, let alone your C class passengers? Why are your ground services so under-resourced and your staff so ineffectual? Why could they not at least offer people a drink somewhere, especially as I was unable to obtain lounge access during this time?
    2. An hour into my wait at LHR, I suggested I could fly out the following day if you could provide a room for the night. Why could nobody make a decision about this? Is it so complicated? They simply refused they sighting they had no authority at all to allow any passengers in Y, C or F to stay in a hotel at the expense of Cathay.
    3. I was handed a letter to say that onward flights from HKG would not be departing and that passengers transiting there would not be able to board in LHR as there was insufficient hotel accommodation in Hong Kong. This just led to further confusion and crowd control issues. We were just rudely told to carry on standing there. Again, why couldn’t your ground service provide an acceptable level of service to at least your C passengers? Surely Cathay Pacific could find hotel accommodation in Hong Kong for its premium passengers if it had wanted to, I spoke to a HK friend just after. She told me that hotels were certainly not full during the typhoon.
    4. Then a further letter was given to us saying we should go home or find a hotel at our own expense. We should call after midnight Sunday. What kind of service is this? You let me depart Manchester having reassured me that the typhoon was not a problem, but don’t take responsibility for this? Plus what am I actually supposed to do, ring around local hotels myself? It seems you were trying to fob people off in London to avoid the cost of providing accommodation in Hong Kong (or London).
    5. By around 6pm I called BA and Qantas to ask for availability to Bangkok for connection to TPE. BA told me they had 8 seats in C class and 4 seats in F, Qantas also had seats available. I then checked with Korean Air, Thai International and Singapore Airlines to find they also had availability in C class with connection options to Taipei.

    But when I asked your staff, they told me that there were no seats available on BA or Qantas. I should either fly back to Manchester at my own expense, or book a hotel in London at my own expense. When I pointed out that those airlines did have availability, they said they could transfer me but I would have to pay for my own onward flight to Taiwan.

    Rather than being helpful, your ground staff were needlessly obstructive, and either lied or are at best were reckless as to the truth. Their attitude was obstructive and antagonising. Why could they not get me on a flight to Taipei when there was availability with these carriers? When this was pointed out to the staff, one of your senior ground staff openly said in front of other passengers, that it was too difficult to talk to BA or Qantas as they are in a different terminal.
    6. Having rejected these useless offers, at 8.30pm I was offered Economy class in EVA to Taipei. Once again, I checked with EVA to discover that they have C class available. So then your ground staff agreed to fly me in C class and assured me that transferring my luggage would be no problem. But on return to EVA, they said that they are unable to retrieve my luggage and sent me back to you to post a missing bag claim with less than 15 minutes before boarding closed... This is before I have even left London. Moreover this to-ing and fro-ing with your staff left me with so little time before EVA’s departure that I had to run to the gate – all this after waiting 6 hours at your check-in during which time you could have offered me the EVA flight in the first place. So, is it your policy for ground staff to try and “bargain” your premium passengers down by offering them flights short of their final destination or in a lower class of travel? Is wrongly stating that there is no availability when there is part of this effort?
    7. To make matters worse, when the EVA flight refuelled in Bangkok, I received 2 sms and 2 emails telling me my flight was cancelled. Now what is the point of this? It would appear to demonstrate that you had known for some time that the flights were in doubt – but still I was flown from Manchester. Incidentally, the typhoon was forecast some 4 days before it arrived in Hong Kong, so you had time for contingency planning. I have firsthand knowledge of this now as USA passengers and some UK passengers were re-booked to avoid all of what I had to endure.
    I personally fly in excess of 300, 000 miles per year and with a variety of airlines. Disruption during typhoons is understandable but this is hardly the issue here. Your staff were poorly trained and under resourced. They were unprepared for a situation such as this and reduced to pathetic fire fighting and fobbing off.
    Your staff seems happy to use misinformation (e.g. availability on other airlines) as a way to persuade passengers to either pay for their own hotel accommodation or to accept journeys short of their destination or in a lower class of travel.
    I purchased a C class ticket from you… the simple act of turning me back at MAN, or phoning me earlier in the day and advising against travel would have averted much of this nightmare. Alternatively with a little planning I could have been re-routed earlier so I wasn’t left standing at check-in for 6 hours.
    The purpose of this letter is not to seek any kind of compensation. But given such a monumental breakdown in customer service, I would appreciate:
    1. Answers to the above questions. It would satisfy me to know to what extent the above actions by your staff were Cathay policy. This seemed to be an institutional failure, not a case of a few individuals needing retraining.
    2. A credit to my account in respect of the airmiles for this route. Since ultimately I was transferred to EVA, I’m not sure if this will happen unless I ask.
    I would like to continue flying with Cathay, but I’m sure you’ll appreciate my confidence in your service to C class travellers is somewhat lacking right now.

  • Fl
      11th of Feb, 2011
    0 Votes

    Some of the Cathay employees belong to a chinese chicken market and maybe in China this way of treating customers is acceptable. I traveled only once with them and was treated so rude that I decided that this airline does not exist for me anymore.

  • Mr
      4th of Sep, 2012
    0 Votes

    claims of scheduled to depart amsterdam on 06 july has been delayed until monday 9 july...

    MR.MUAS
    NO.FLIGHT CX 270.
    ASMTERSDAM, HONGKONG, BALI, JAKARTA..

    wiht this we as customer waiting a compensation from the corresponding flight..

  • Be
      26th of Jun, 2017
    0 Votes

    Agree... poor service...

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