Why have Cathay Pacific’s standards slipped so much?

[Answer Request].

This is my first answer that will not be published on Quora – the first answer after I started declining answers on Quora. I waited until two factors combined:

  • An interesting (to me at least) question.
  • Someone I had had [positive] interactions with on Quora. Derek Schatz fits the bill nicely.

So, as usual with questions that start with “Why” let’s mention the obvious: Do not ask why before you ask if!

It is a frequent idiocy on Quora – one of the many things that made me stop answering there. The main reason being of course that the mere fact of calling it idiocy would get me a BNBR at best, an edit-block or a ban at worst. And at my age, I don’t need to be treated like a child, especially by hipster kids from San Fran…

Anyway, this idiocy – loaded questions that make unwarranted assumptions, trying to establish them as facts, and jumping right to the why… On the profile of the OP, the photo points to a young man. I wonder how long this dude has been flying with CX to be in a position to establish that their service has “slipped”, and so much…

My answer is – it hasn’t. I’m not saying it is always perfect. Airlines are made and run by people. And nobody’s perfect. I’ve had a horrible flight with CX, in Business class, to boot, because of one deranged, fat, careless Korean attendant. It was a HKG-ICN flight, and that woman, who seemed kind of not fully equipped, in the brain department, was so fat, she didn’t walk, she waddled. Even in the Business class aisles, she was having difficulties moving around. Your weight is your problem, but if it prevents you from working properly, well… Time for a diet or another job.

But that’s not the main problem. Like many seriously overweight people (hey, I used to be one, I know), she was lazy. When the lunch started, or whatever meal it can be called outside lunch hours, she walked slowly in the aisle, literally dropping glasses of water on the tables, left and right, without looking! She kept pursing her lips in and out, looking straight out, her hands moving mechanically left and right.

When my turn came, she didn’t see – as she wasn’t looking – that I didn’t have any food on my table, but a rather large laptop (I was using a MacBook 17″ back then). The glass landed half on my laptop, the other half over, well, void, really. It dropped, fortunately on the floor and not the laptop. I would have murdered that bitch if it had. She kept walking. She hadn’t noticed anything. I yelled at her, and dumped a shitload of verbal abuse on her, in Korean. She looked at me like I was a deranged animal.

Another FA came, asked me what the trouble was. After I explained what happened, she shrugged, picked up the glass, and left. I wasn’t even offered another glass in replacement. For the rest of the flight I kept ringing the bell every 15~20 minutes, asking for more Perrier. In between water requests, I went to the loo – I’ve never peed so much on a plane!

But that was the one nightmare flight. Every other flight I have taken in the last 10 years with CX, 300+ of them, has been between ok to excellent. Their staff is well trained, and, except for retards like that fat Korean and her colleagues, they’re decent beings. I used to live in Tung Chung, where my CX employees live, and I’ve seen many FAs there. They’re not the smiling type outside work. And among the younger ones, both at CX and KA, there are plenty of bitches with the “princess disease”, something very common in HK. I’ve had a few run-ins with such bitches outside the airport. But most of them know how to keep their shitty princess behaviour in the locker room, and behave properly while working. I also suspect that the penalties the airlines apply for customer complaints aren’t light-hearted either.

I’ve also had plenty of good, friendly interactions with FAs – although usually with non-HK FAs, Pinays, Indians, Mainlanders, etc. One exception is the gay HK dudes: they’re usually very friendly and smiling.

As for the hardware, it hasn’t slipped – on the contrary it seems to improve, especially considering the financial pressure put on airlines. The new cabins are nice, the meals and beverages stayed a notch above competition. The new A350 have wifi onboard. They achieved this with a few things:

  • They’re not cheap.
  • They reduced the number of options for meals. Their catering seems to be preparing tons of pasta and rice.
  • They passed the financial squeeze on to their suppliers.

All in all, CX, and KA, are still good airlines, and stay a model for the competition.


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