For Hong Kong’s ‘Airport Auntie,’ Apology and Upgrade

Travel Blog  •  Julia Ross  •  03.05.09 | 2:21 PM ET

Remember the hysterical Chinese woman who missed her flight out of Hong Kong? Cathay Pacific has apologized for causing her public embarrassment to the tune of 5 million YouTube viewers (and many unbidden late-night talk-show appearances) worldwide. Because a Cathay Pacific staff member taped the tirade, apparently the airline felt it needed to exercise damage control. “Airport Auntie,” as she’s known, also got an upgrade on her next flight to San Francisco. (via WSJ China Journal)

Julia Ross is a Washington, DC-based writer and frequent contributor to World Hum. She has lived in China and Taiwan, where she was a Fulbright scholar and Mandarin student. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, Time, Christian Science Monitor, Plenty and other publications. Her essay, Six Degrees of Vietnam, was shortlisted for "The Best American Travel Writing 2009."

3 Comments for For Hong Kong’s ‘Airport Auntie,’ Apology and Upgrade

sunlover_hk 03.06.09 | 2:33 AM ET

Who was the one at fault after all? That woman first missed the flight by not sticking to the schedule and then made a scene at the airport. The Cathay Pacific staff member simply filmed her hysterical behaviour as evidence of an act that disturbed public peace. She had only herself to blame.

marve1 03.06.09 | 6:46 PM ET

Unfortunately, people judge others without all of the facts. It is true that the video presents a woman having a tantrum because she missed her flight. It is unusual because she is a woman, not a child. shouldn’t that tell us something? The video clip of her tirade does not tell us anything about this woman. Who is she? Is this common behavior in her life? Does she suffer from autism or emotional disturbance? It would be really unfortunate to find out that the woman has a disability so in addition to the family living and coping with the individual’s disability, they would also be shamed nationally by the irresponsible behavior of an airline employee. There is nothing magnanimous in presenting others in their worst light: it is only done to ridicule. It was a shameful day for Cathay Pacific.

sunlover_hk 03.07.09 | 9:49 AM ET

I should perhaps apologise for that last rash comment resulting from my failure to factor in the problems that might have been plaguing the woman.  It should be borne in mind, however, that whatever illness or disability she could possibly have been suffering is only a mitigating factor at its best, as in a case of assault or wounding where the defence counsel cites a background of provocation or a history of mental illness. That factor possibly goes some way towards explaining the defendant’s act at the material time, but under no circumstances should it be considered a justification for his or her acquittal.  The same principle applies to the case in question, where the woman could plead emotional disturbance or even mental disorders if the case did go to a court of law.  But still she behaved in a way that disturbed public peace, and the Cathay Pacific staff member simply made a video clip of what she did that might be used as evidence against her should the circumstances warrant legal action.  The blame should therefore be directed at the absence of measures to prevent the video clip from being circulated on the Internet, not the filming of the unruly behaviour in a public place.  One has to be careful about what he or she says or does in a public place to avoid violation of any law relating to public order.

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