“Gwailo” bias on Cathay Pacific Airways

I ASKED a Hong Kong resident who flew with his family from their hometown to Vancouver on Oct 9 what he thought of the service.

He was comfortable with the seat pitch in economy, reasonably pleased with the meals although he noted the portion had been reduced, and very happy with the inflight entertainment selection of movies.

The minuses include dirty toilets, which were not cleaned as far as he knew throughout the entire flight, and the stained tray table at his seat – grains of rice apparently left from the last flight were stuck to the surface. Knowing him to be someone finicky about hygiene, he found these lapses quite unsettling.

On the whole, he found the service provided by the crew not bad, except for something that quite cheesed him off. The “gwailo” bias, he said. He noticed how the crew were most polite (or was it more appropriately subservient) towards Caucasian passengers but not quite so to the rest of the travelers. That was not his beef, but why the different treatment as presumably they all paid the same fare? Caucasian passengers were saluted as “Sir” or “Madam”, but this was dropped when it came to him or the Indian passenger seated next to him. It was simply and curtly: “What would you like to have?” Not that this was particularly rude, but the difference in treatment made it appear so.

This, he said, was what he used to experience on another reputable Asian airline, but I told him I was not particularly aware of it from my frequent recent experiences. I would not venture to suggest that this has anything to do with Hong Kong being Hong Kong which, to my knowledge, has become one of the most improved service-oriented economies in the region. He then recommended, for equality of class, “Fly Air China.”


About David Leo
David Leo has more than 30 years of aviation experience, having served in senior management in one of the world's best airlines and airports. He continues to maintain a keen interest in the business, writes freelance and provides consultancy services in the field.

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