Death At The Cathay Pacific SFO Lounge – Body Not Discovered For 17 Hours!


A Cathay Pacific passenger became unfortunately deceased prior to his flight within the CX San Francisco Lounge facility but his body in the bathroom stall was not discovered until 17 hours later.

The passenger who has obviously never boarded his flight wasn’t searched for within the lounge, casting doubt about the common sense that Cathay’s management in SFO applies to their operations.

The deceased Mr. Ming Kou Chan (RIP) was a prominent Stanford scholar who as the coroner later determined died of coronary atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries.

Apparently this already happened in late October of 2018 but the Coroners report has just now been made public. The latest FlyerTalk Newsletter included a piece about this case and the local CBS News had a report as well:

An autopsy report on the death of a well-respected East Asian scholar with long ties to Stanford University reveals he was found dead in a bathroom at in a San Francisco International Airport lounge nearly 18 hours after he entered the lounge.

On October 29th, 2018, Ming Kou Chan was seen on SFO security video walking into the bathroom inside the Cathay Pacific first class lounge before a planned flight to Hong Kong. He never emerged.

17 hours and 20 minutes later, someone found Chan unresponsive inside the swanky Italian marble-lined bathroom.

Chan’s autopsy report from the San Mateo County coroner shows multiple rib fractures due to CPR, but the attempts to revive him were futile. Chan was declared dead.

“From the airport’s perspective–we typically to leave it up to the airlines to manage the situation whenever the passengers don’t actually board the flight,” said Malcolm Yeung of the airport commission.

The report shows that Chan had coronary atherosclerosis, or clogged arteries in his heart. The report still doesn’t explain why he languished on the floor for nearly a day before someone found him.

In a statement, Cathay Pacific did not explain why no one discovered Chan. “Out of respect for the parties involved, we will not be commenting on the specifics of the incident.”

SFO spokesperson Doug Yakel says the first class lounge is under direct control of Cathay Pacific and the airport is not responsible for that part of the terminal.

What an extremely sad case of carelessness on the part of Cathay Pacific. It’s at least possible the man could have been saved by receiving medical attention around the time he suffered from his condition and ultimately succumbed to it.

Here is the coroners report:

Download (PDF, 761KB)

Cathay Pacific stating they wouldn’t comment any further out of respect is a slap in the face to all the bereaved. They pretty much left him to die in a bathroom. Why is nobody checking these facilities after a checked-in passenger is missing and doesn’t make his flight.

Cathay’s flight leaves at 12:30am (I’m on that same flight next week) and the staff likely just wanted to go home and didn’t gave a damn about checking the lounge facilities – with fatal consequences.


The man was 69 years old, so not a young individual by any stretch but the (lack of) effort displayed by Cathay’s SFO station staff is truly shocking in this case. Who knows if medical attention close to the time of the incident could have saved him. Maybe, maybe not?!

Hopefully this will shake up airport employees and in particular Cathay Pacific management at SFO. I could very well foresee a lawsuit arising from this. The airport made clear that whatever happens at the lounge facilities is the airlines sphere of influence.