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Cathay Pacific Fires Flight Attendants in Discrimination Uproar With Non-English Speaking Passengers

Cathay Pacific Fires Flight Attendants in Discrimination Uproar With Non-English Speaking Passengers

a group of people in an airplane

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.

In a now-viral post on a popular Chinese social media network, a flight attendant is allegedly heard telling a passenger that they can’t have a blanket unless they use the correct English word after the passenger accidentally 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.

Many mainland Chinese travellers on flights to Hong Kong speak Mandarin as their first language, whereas as the most common languages spoken in Hong Kong are Cantonese and English.

A passenger who didn’t speak English as their first language on the Chengdu to Hong Kong attempted to ask for a blanket but accidentally asked for a ‘carpet’ drawing alleged mocking from the cabin crew.

One of the crew members allegedly told them they were welcome to lay on the floor if they wanted a carpet rather than a blanket.

Responding to the furoure, the airline quickly grounded the flight attendants involved in the incident pending an internal inquiry. “Any speech or behaviour that violates our policies or code of conduct, when confirmed, will be dealt with seriously and diligently,” a spokesperson for the airline commented.

“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.”

Slammed by lengthy pandemic restrictions, Cathay Pacific is trying to rapidly rebuild its global network after Covid-era rules were lifted. Mainland China remains an immensively important market for Cathay Pacific but lingering discrimination concerns have, on occasion, marred the airline’s reputation with mainland travellers.

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