Compensation Clinic: Cathay Pacific First Class Problems, $100 Cash Reimbursement


Our weekly Compensation Clinic is handling a Cathay Pacific Customer Relations case I filed after a recent First Class flight I had with the carrier to/from San Francisco.

Remember that you can always email us, send a message via Facebook or use Twitter and include photos too. We’ll try to cover a Compensation Clinic case here once a week, every Sunday.

A couple months ago I had a Cathay Pacific round trip in First Class first from Singapore via Hong Kong to Vancouver and return from San Francisco.

There were several problems with this trip that ultimately led me to file a complaint with customer relations:

  • A flight delay let my connection time shrink to 40 minutes and the incoming flight then received a tarmac position with not bus available. When a bus finally came it was one for all pssengers, no priority services for Business/First. In the terminal no support staff for short connections;
  • Check in for SFO-HKG took roughly 40 minutes due to a computer problem;
  • Service in First Class on SFO-HKG with Cathay’s U.S. crew was absolutely mediocre, totally the opposite of the HKG-YVR flight with HK based crew;
  • Connection flight was delayed for 3 hours.

One example was the caviar which was served with a regular spoon because as per the crew “they were out of MOP spoons”:

In comparison, this is how it should be served:

The mother of pearl spoons are counted and supplied by the caterer. I didn’t buy the “we’re out of spoons” nonsense from the crew.

Mind you this was the same crew member who served the tea in a regular cup and was adamant that Cathay has never ever served tea in a teapot even in First Class. Total rubbish and simply a lie. I told her to consult the CSM to get a refresher on how the dishes in First are supposed to be served. Sure enough the teapots were in stock.

After reporting these points customer relations replied back to me:

… It is our intention to provide our passengers an enjoyable travelling experience and I am very sorry to learn of your disappointment with our service and would like to apologize for the poor impression created on this occasion. …

On a positive note, I am pleased to learn that you are satisfied with the services rendered by crew on your flight to Vancouver, your kind feedback will offer much encouragement. I am sure our staff will appreciate you taking the time to acknowledge their effort; it is a pleasure to convey compliments.

Whilst I am unable to undo the disappointment caused on this occasion in view of your poor experience as a goodwill gesture I have arranged for USD100 in service vouchers to be posted to you and have included the terms and conditions here for your reference. Please confirm your mailing address so that I can send it to you by registered mail. I sincerely hope this will go some way towards alleviating your disappointment. …

The T&C of said vouchers were a joke. It would require you to visit a ticketing office in order to use them towards a flight ticket and online ticket pricing wouldn’t apply.

I replied that I don’t live anywhere near a ticketing office for Cathay and that the compensation should instead be issued in cash (I had previously paid a $100 change fee, they could have just refunded that).

Customer Relations agreed to this and sent me a file to send in my account details for cash reimbursement of US$100 (90 EUR):

The fund were received quickly, just 3 business days later which was rather surprising. There were also no banking fees incurred as CX took care of those. Once of the reason why I used my Germany based account. Chase in the U.S. always charges a $15 incoming wire fee for overseas payments.


Cathay Pacific has a huge service discrepancy when it comes to their staff. The Hong Kong based crew is still very good but I don’t like the service on the flights to/from the U.S. and had several bad experiences with them on Los Angeles flights as well. No comparison!

The transfer experience also left everything to be desired, ground staff should be available to assist passengers impacted by delays and especially those in First & Business Class.

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