When Airlines Take Actions Based On Your Blog Post

Yesterday I wrote a post with tips for becoming a travel blogger. In that post I mentioned how I write the blog for myself. That’s to say that since day one I’ve been writing as if I was the only reader. And at the beginning that worked great, since I probably was the only reader (okay, perhaps I’m doing a disservice to my mother).

As my readership has grown, so has the number of times I’m contacted by travel providers after writing a review. When I write a positive review I sometimes get an email from the GM of a hotel thanking me for staying with them and for the great review. If it’s a negative review I occasionally get an email with actions that will be taken to correct the situation. Again, it’s still only the case for a very small minority of my travels, but it does happen.

It makes me smile when positive feedback I posted in a review gets passed on. I’ve received about a dozen Facebook messages over the years from specific employees I mentioned in my reviews (both in the airline and hotel industry) thanking me for mentioning them, since their boss gave them a pat on the back because of my review. Nothing makes me happier.

My favorite was possibly this one (it was a non-US property, as you’d expect based from the English):

Thanx for the compliment in your blog!

Thanx to ur blog, I got to rub my face into the seniors who gave me crap about my customer service.


But at times it’s easy to lose sight of the fact that my reviews can have negative implications for employees as well.

As you guys know, I had a rather disappointing flight in first class on China Southern from Los Angeles to Guangzhou. As always, I tried to write an honest review sharing both the good and the bad.

The truth is that it was mostly just bad, though.

Apparently my initial thoughts on the flight went somewhat viral on Weibo, which I’m told is the Chinese equivalent of Twitter. Within a couple of days I received an email from China Southern’s “Assistant President” of Airline Products & Services Management. I appreciated that they were following up, and thought an “internal discussion…on how to improve our premium passenger service” was perfectly appropriate. That seems like the kind of action a company would want to take after receiving negative feedback, and I didn’t think much more of it.

More recently, though, I’ve received a lot of comments on the blog regarding an internal memo that was leaked on Weibo. Now, you have to be a member to read Weibo, and since I don’t speak any Chinese I couldn’t quite figure out how to find where my post was being discussed. Fortunately a couple of blog readers offered to find the posts and translate them (thanks ZR and YW!).

So basically part of an internal China Southern memo was posted:

The first picture/paragraph is basically a summary of your blog post:

“In this blog post the passenger has reviewed First Class cabin’s service, food/beverage selection and hard product. He has pointed out 5 issues with China Southern’s A380 first class cabin:

1. 5 cabin crew members occupied first class seats to rest
2. $5 dollars sparkling wine is served in first class instead of champagne
3. Cabin crew’s poor command of English
4. Poor management of first class lavatory
5. Inferior class and selection of first class food, no snack menu

This blog article has been widely circulated online both inside and within China.”

The second leaked photo is “improvement number 4.” Apparently improvements 1, 2, and 3, are not leaked:

“In recent week a first class passenger has reviewed CZ328’s A380 service. This blog post has been widely publicized and provoked strong reactions in social networks both within and outside China, and severely damaged company’s brand and reputation. All cabin servicing units must learn from this lesson, use effective measurements to improve international routes’ services. Company headquarter will intensify auditing process and implement stricter responsibility rules.”

The same source that posted the internal leaked memo also notes that the entire first class crew has been reprimanded and demoted, and that the purser has been demoted to a “common” flight attendant in economy class. I’ve also received several comments and emails suggesting that even the pilot may have been “punished,” which I can’t even begin to imagine.

While I appreciate that China Southern took my feedback so seriously, this leaves me feeling really sad. Like, sitting in my bathtub with a pint of Ben & Jenny’s sad.

I tend to take for granted that if I’m reviewing a US airline and the service is bad, there’s a chance it will be noted in the flight attendant’s record, but ultimately nothing bad will happen. After all, that’s partly what unions are there for. Like them or hate them, they protect you when you have a bad day.

It’s easy to forget that the same isn’t true at some non-US airlines. I mean, breaking down the most serious “failures” on my China Southern flight, the blame distribution between the flight attendants and management is as follows, in my opinion:

Flight attendants:

  • The flight attendants shouldn’t have slept in first class seats (or allowed others to sleep in first class seats).
  • The flight attendants should have kept the bathroom more tidy, and maybe not used the first class one for 90% of the flight.


  • Management is responsible for the $5 sparkling wine they serve in first class, which is possibly the cheapest sparkling beverage served by any airline, anywhere, in any cabin.
  • Management is responsible for the sub-par catering, which is business class quality at best.
  • Management is ultimately responsible for the language barrier.
    • It’s not the flight attendants’ fault they didn’t speak English well, but rather management’s fault that they’re not hiring flight attendants that speak English better, if that’s a priority.
    • China Southern actually has Dutch and Australian flight attendants that work flights to those destinations, and I don’t see why it should be any different for US flights.

But more than anything I believe the experience I had was more or less the norm for Chinese airlines, and it’s not the fault of the crew that a travel blogger happened to be on a flight that is realistically probably representative of the China Southern experience as a whole.

It’s kind of like when everyone is driving 15 miles over the speed limit, and you just happen to be the person that gets pulled over by the cop (not that I like to think of myself as the “cop,” but in this example it kind of works). I believe what I experienced goes on a large percentage of the time on Chinese airlines, but it just happened to be that I reviewed this flight.

So yeah, it makes me really sad to think that my review could have resulted in multiple people being demoted. I mean, yes, there were what I would consider to be service failures, but at the same time it is the responsibility of the airline (or any company, really), to be setting the service standards and communicating those standards to their employees.

There are different cultural norms when it comes to appropriate “punishment” for bad service. I wouldn’t feel bad if this was put in the flight attendants’ records, but if they’re getting pay cuts and their quality of life is being seriously altered as a result of my review, that makes me feel like a horrible person.

Along similar lines, I’ve linked to the “expose” on Qatar Airways, and how easily they fire flight attendants simply by freezing their bank accounts and giving them a one-way ticket out of Qatar. So if I were flying Qatar Airways and had horrible service, should I still write a review about the flight, or should I skip it out of fear of what could happen to the flight attendant providing the bad service?

So please help me out, guys — should I feel guilty for the potential actions that were taken against the crew? Going forward should I not review negative flight experiences on airlines that are quick to take action against employees?

Like I said, I feel guilty, not because I don’t believe my review to be accurate, but because by my standards that seems like really harsh punishment, and I’m not sure it addresses the root causes anyway.

Filed Under: China Southern
  1. You have a loyal readership because of your honesty. When people google “first class X” you pop up near the top. All this because of honest, incisive reviews.

    Besides, I’m sure management will take heat on China Southern–especially after this post.

  2. A reason I follow your blog is because of your honest reviews.

    Actually, you are doing China Southern a favor!! You are helping them improve. They should actually be paying you 🙂

  3. I don’t think you should feel bad Lucky. You are probably doing them a service. If China Southern strives to be a world class airline, it has to start somewhere.

  4. Well Chinese culture is waaay different than German one even Occidental one… I think it is ok your review in fact they strictly force the crew and the managment of the airline to not bypass those things ever again

  5. I agree with Juan, that you doing them somewhat of a favor by proving honest feedback, but if I was in your position I would feel bad about getting the FAs in trouble 🙁 From what it sounds like it wasn’t their fault. Hopefully their management sees this post…

  6. Agree with jake. It’s not a review if it’s not honest. While nobody wants anyone to suffer, unfortunately in that culture management will want to save face and will take it out on the flight attendants, regardless of where you think the blame lies.

    Ben, you should contact China Southern and offer to do some consulting work for them!

  7. Lucky, in a battle between the truth and good intentions, the truth needs to win out. Your approach is measured and respectful, and your standards are reasonable. You don’t take cheap shots and you usually give folks the benefit of the doubt.

    The minute you start editing your comments to try to control how they are used, your credibility diminishes. Your influence and reader loyalty is due to your credibility. Don’t risk that to try to anticipate how airline management will interpret your words.

  8. You need not feel guilty at all. If employees are not held accountable for their performance, then service would be bad on all airlines. Bad performance deserves consequences. When unions “protect” employees from feeling the consequences of bad performance, then you get service like the service on US Air or United, rather than service like on Cathay. All you did is make management aware of how its employees were performing badly; you did not cause the bad performance itself, that was the choice of the employees who (probably) felt there was no reason to try to do a great job since there was no consequence for failing to do so. Yes, I am sure a union for a US carrier would have prevented anything from being done. In my view, however, that is a bad thing not a good thing.

  9. You shouldn’t feel guilty. And yes, maybe you could affect some people, but it’s only this kind of reviews you write that can help an airline to get better.
    In 99% of the customer dissatisfaction, the management just listens and goes on like before. In your case, this went viral and they just HAD to take action.

    And in this case: sure it is sad that the flight attendants get punished, but this is just how business life is. They shouldn’t have slept in F, they shouldn’t have used the F toilet that much.
    In some way it COULD be the fault of management not having the rules in place.

    Also: you mention the management shouldn’t have fired them in the first place. Sure, you’re right. But let’s look at it another way. Now they’ve worked for a few years and got some money out of it. Even if they now get fired f.e…. If the management would have been appropriate from the start, the cabin crew wouldn’t be better off, they would be without a job (or probably a worse / less interesting job)

  10. I’m a reader of your blog and enjoying you sharing both your positive and negative experiences. There’s enough cheerleaders out there in the blogger world. I appreciate your honest assessment of your travels. Please continue to share all the details.

  11. @ realandyluten has the right idea. Offering to help them improve their service might make you feel better about the situation. And it would be one heck of a gold star on your professional resume.

  12. Please continue to be honest and please review the airlines (and everything else you review) as you see it. Don’t sugar coat it. I read your blog because I am looking for an honest review. Too often, there are fake reviews or reviews that are sub-par.

    I am Chinese myself and I see all of the quality control issues that China needs to address. It is disheartening to see that China is portraying themselves like that. They want to appear to be the best so they should act it. There are people that are paying for these flights with actual money so I feel you are doing them (us) a favor by writing your reviews, regardless of whether or not it will cause someone to get fired. At the end of the day, you are writing this blog for yourself and your readers, so you can help us make judgments as to whether we should spend our miles/points on airlines such as China Southern. You should not have to censor your reviews. You have no control of the outcome.

    I am sure the China Southern management was well aware of the issues going on even before you wrote the post. They just didn’t expect it to be exposed on an American blog such as yours. I think it’s great that you “exposed” this. I agree, I don’t think the root issues were addressed since it is ultimately the management’s fault for most of the issues you experienced. You are doing everyone a service here by being honest. So please continue to be honest. We need more reviews such as yours.

  13. Write what you care about and be honest. If service is good, let us know. If it isn’t, we appreciate knowing that as well.

  14. They should pay you for doing their job. It is not very uncommon to have hig level airline employees to fly in their planes without being identified as airline employees to see how good or bad their service is. You are like the Michelin Guide guy that goes to a restaurant as a regular customer but he then rates his experience about that restaurant. Keep being honest and doing this amazing job.

  15. I like what you did here… showing how management is to blame.
    At the end of the day, good companies have good leaders, bad companies have bad leaders. It’s clear China Southern has bad leaders.

    Maybe in the future you could try to use language that shows the corporation’s problems and less so for the individual workers (again, just like you did here).

    You shouldn’t feel guilty. You’re just doing your job and you can’t fix the world and its problems.

  16. @realandyluten has gotten the situation right. It’s unfortunate that the flight attendants are suffering because of poor management.(Possibly lack of training) But it does send a very clear message to all the other FAs that there are consequences to one’s actions. Ultimately you have helped them to become a better airline so no need to feel guilty. (Your intentions were not malicious, no need to beat yourself up over it.)

  17. Your “obligation” is to your readers who rely on you for accurate and honest reviews. My perception of all of your reviews is that you are quick to praise what’s done right, and when things aren’t at the level they should be you report it accurately with a sense of humor. I don’t ever recall a mean-spirited review. You can’t tailor your style or modify your opinions based on the management style of the airline on which you are flying.

    I thought some of the comments to your review were very revealing. Several people with experience flying Chinese airlines commented that your flight was not out of the ordinary for airlines in that country. Maybe China Southern just needs to decide if it wants to continue to do that, or to offer an international level first class experience.

  18. Your analogy hit it spot on. They (FAs) were caught and noted doing the (apparent) norm on a western blog. I’m sure if it was written by someone in China, it wouldn’t have made that big of a deal. Of course, I would assume a China based blog writer, wouldn’t have written things a bit differently since they’re used to this level of service, the same as US flyers encountering surly FAs and chalking it up as business as usual.

    Yeah it sucks that people were affected, but you should continue writing your honest opinion.

  19. Look at the inverse of your question: what if you weren’t honest in your reviews?

    It’s not your fault the crew didn’t do their jobs well. As you mentioned many of the things are a management issue not a FA/crew issue. But allowing other people to use the first class cabin, poor state of the lav, etc. is on their shoulders.

    If you weren’t honest people would spend points expecting a first class experience, not get it, and be disappointed. Through your honesty the community now knows to be cautious with China Southern… or wait until you take another flight and write a follow up.

    Keep up the good work.

  20. Ben,

    Like most others have stated here – the reason we read your blog is because you are capable of being objective within a highly subjective category of industry. If you change to everything being “wonderful” because you fear that a poor performing employee/airline will suffer in some way, your flock will flee.

    In no way should you feel guilty. Or bad. While it is (perhaps) over-punishing the guilty, at least some action was taken. However, I would be more interested to see the management that approved/implemented such inadequacies to face punishment in the same way the employees did.

    Of course, the best management/managers would immediately take responsibility, not punish the flight crew, re-train them, re-position them if need be, apologize to the affected customers, and lay out a specific plan, including steps that have already been implemented to remedy the situation. Managers that simply pass the buck are useless and deserve to be exposed (as those posts have shown, management is essentially blaming the employees for poor corporate decisions).

  21. I understand why you feel bad. But as everyone says, it is better that you point these things out than ignore them. Service would never improve that way for sure. Whether service improves now or not remains to be seen. If this crew had done a good job they wouldn’t have been demoted. I’d guess that the sleeping in the F class seats and not keeping things clean would be pretty big no-nos. If the airline aspires to provide a F class service then it should take some action. Of course these days in almost no corporation do the executives pay a price for anything. Look at how much everyone hates Smisek. But he keeps his job with no repercussions.

    It is a shame that the little guys get punished for the failings of the airline’s culture. But if I was paying $10K or whatever for an F class seat on this airline I’d be pretty pissed off.

  22. Hi Ben. I’ve followed your blog for about a year now and it has been one of the best resources as well as source of entertainment as I’ve gotten into the miles/points hobby. I appreciate the honesty that give whether it’s positive or negative so please don’t let that change!

    Unfortunately when an issue is publicized on chinese social media, the company will punish someone and I’m not surprised that the crew was punished. However there is no way you knew that could have happened so don’t let that impact your future reporting!

    I wonder how many new chinese readers you gained from that post!

  23. At the risk of repeating what a lot of others have already said, I really appreciate your honesty and the entertaining way you describe your experiences. This is why I’ll read your reports of hotels I’ll never stay in, etc.; everything you do combines great information with your own unique point-of-view.

    The fact that you are concerned about the negative consequences that your China Southern review had on employees, even though that was not your intention, demonstrates to me that besides being a good writer, you are also a decent human being!

  24. Great post. The question is, do you feel guilty for what you wrote? Growing up in a Chinese household, I’m well aware of the authoritarian ways of the Chinese. The demotions are more a reflection of the airline management rather than of you as a travel blogger. If you start censoring yourself, you will have become just what the Chinese ways of communisim and authoritarianism want you to be.

  25. I agree with all the other posters that you’re doing the right thing. Do, however, be glad you don’t live in China. The head of China Southern might send out his goons to talk to you.

  26. As I recall, the commenters on your trip report post indicated that they had similar experiences with the carrier on other flights, which suggests that the problem is more airline-wide than confined to the crew on your flight. It’s a shame that management decided to let the cabin crew on your flight take the fall, since those FAs were probably no better or worse than their colleages in the company.

    If you were exaggerating or misrepresenting your experience, I would understand why you might feel guilty. But from what I can see, you give an honest account of all the trips you take, and should not have any misgivings about reporting factual information about the experience. Your credibility would suffer if you did otherwise.

    Also, I’m not super surprised that the experience wasn’t comparable to Cathay or Lufthansa. China Southern is based in an industrial city that has only recently begun to widely attract wealthy passengers from around the globe, and I think it’s understandable that they have a little learning to do before they perfect their premimum product.

  27. I rarely comment, but I thought I’d chime in to say that you did the right thing and have no reason to feel bad. Your assessment of your flight sounded fair and balanced – it’s not like you trashed the company or anyone in particular. You highlighted specific, tangible issues with the service and the product. Your blog would have no value if you only produced glowing statements about the products that you review.

    While I ultimately agree with you that the crew shouldn’t bear direct consequences (because an entire company culture is at stake) they were certainly part of the issue. I hope that they will be treated fairly but you shouldn’t feel guilty. Sooner or later a bad review was bound to surface. If anything, this situation reveals a severe lack of oversight from the airline’s part, and your review is likely to change that.

    Your heartfelt feelings will I am sure be well received, but you’re not ultimately responsible for the root cause of the entire issue – poor service.

    Another thing to consider is that at the end of the day you actually don’t know what’s really going on internally and what actions were taken. The memo leaks might have been intended… I don’t want to speculate too much but creating a buzz about quick corrective action might just be part of the PR strategy here. Or not. Either way I wouldn’t interfere or read too much into it.

  28. The flight attendants responsibility is to protect the sanctity of the First Class Cabin and to provide a pleasurable service to passengers with assigned seats in those cabins. Their action allowing the unused seats to be used as beds for crew and various other passengers , as well as using the first class bathroom as their own without keeping it clean , represents a lack of ethic and accountability. The consequence of those actions , intended or unintended landed on you , the First Class passenger and diminished your experience. Add in business class food at best,crap bubbly, and poor comprehension of English and the result leaves you the passenger with a good hard product and a diminished first class service experience. That crew should be demoted back to economy and it’s unfortunate that management will most likely be able to skate for their part in this.
    I like what Chief Justice Louis Brandeis said “sunlight is the best disinfectant”.

  29. I agree that you should keep posting the truth. The problem started for China Southern when this created a large feedback on Weibo. It is actually more powerful compared to what Twitter can do in the US. So they had to do something.

    I did fly last year Hainan Airlines Business Class (paid) and was very satisfied with their food (better then UA or AA business class food), service was attentative and bathrooms were looked after. Language skills were acceptable. So not every Chinese Airline is that bad, at least Hainan was not.

    I also had very good service recently on Air China on a flight in C from Beijing to Hongkong. Seats were nothing to write home about but food and service was good.

  30. it’s good to be honest when exposing deficiencies at airlines, but the CZ review was very harsh and condescending

    if you were paid F, you have the right to be THAT condescending. if you redeemed, be happy that you’re flying something 99% of us can’t afford.

  31. While I feel for you and for the seemingly severe reaction by China Southern, it is CRITICAL that you remember that honesty is always the best policy. Enabling bad behavior–and/or not being forthright in criticizing such behavior–is exactly what allows poor service and behavior to continue. While I agree that the demotions seem harsh, let’s remember that we don’t know if this is the first example or a running problem that China Southern is handling with this crew. If China Southern has a policy of not allowing FAs to sleep in First Class suites, then we can imagine this was a very poor choice by the FAs. To be honest, I’d expect an American or European carrier to react similarly were the same to ever happen on their equipment! It doesn’t happen, and that’s precisely because of better training and also better enforcement of penalties, perhaps.

    There’s always a first, and perhaps your blog review will force China Southern and other Chinese (and other) airlines to handle such details in a better manner.

    The fact is that airlines should either encourage/require FAs to use Biz Class/Economy bathrooms or provide more bathrooms at the front of the plane on longhaul flights. Certainly, FAs should be responsible for cleaning the bathrooms after using them. Your crew failed miserably in that regard.

    Management might have made big mistakes in this scenario, and we don’t know publicly if anyone in management paid a similar price as the crew–those shake-ups don’t usually make the rounds of the press, especially in China.

    In the end, honest reviews are the only way EVERYONE in customer service improves. The FAs are not innocent here, and it’s important to remember that they took actions that were pretty obviously shady.

  32. As you noted, it is likely that the FAs were carrying out their responsibilities in a manner inconsistent with their training and well-understood regulations. From my 10 years of doing business there it is my experience that it is common to flout rules if you can get away with it. It makes you cunning. When people get caught they are shamed and they expect the shaming.

  33. Stay true to yourself. As long as the information you provide is accurate, then you should not feel guilty. In my job, management has told me several times that they intended to fire or demote someone. I always replied that the issue starts at the top with management and the board of directors, not the staff. Management failed to establish standards, provide adequate training, and lacked a secondary review system to ensure that standards were followed and the staff trained. The fact that the staff failed to provide professional service is their own choice. I’m sure that if one or more of the staff had done his/her job appropriately, you would have pointed that out. Please keep up the good work. Don’t fly a first class ticket on guilt trip airlines.

  34. Many of us would be pretty disappointed if theater critics gave only “nice” reviews in order to keep shows going. Imagine if they wrote reviews based on their potential guilty feelings.

  35. Lucky
    Bottom line we come to u for a honest review

    You feel guilty bc your a nice guy, before you feel guilty i would like to see another review of this airline in 6 months. I will be amazed if the changes were actually followed through. Dont feel bad bc you did your job and other did not do theirs

  36. I’d feel terrible too as to what happened to those poor FAs’. But, the fact of the matter is, you were doing what you were suppose to do and that’s to write a review. Don’t feel sorry for yourself. You are 100% accurate as to where the responsibilities go to. You exposed them as well as Qatar Air. We the public should know well ahead in advance about hotels and airlines that we are contemplating using…and a BIG THANK YOU to people like you for all the voluminous information that we get. I wish I could blog about my recent EVA Air flight LAX-MNL-LAX via Taipei and how horrible the service and the food was. I would never…ever fly them ever AGAIN!

  37. Just don’t report the date of the flight/stay (for countries where you think there may be a disproportionate reaction towards employees*). You can still be objective on the review and force improvements (which I think is a great power to have. Use it wisely! 🙂 )

  38. Roger Ebert has written eloquently about learning what it means to be a critic. Newspapers, books, blogs, it doesn’t make a difference. Words matter. Writing changes lives. It is a big responsibility. You have nothing but your credibility. Your blg’s format matters. The pictures matter. But without the credit you build, what do you have? Maybe you enjoy the blog mostly as a fun lark. But now you know the truth. If you are going to be in the criticism business, you can be funny, even sarcastic, but if you lose a sense of solemnity about what you do, get too close to the people or products you review, or ever decide absolute honest isn’t crucial, you are lost. The crossroads at which you find yourself is one that no critic of significance can avoid. You have to ask yourself what you want to be. If your aspiration is a funny, introspective travel guy who takes pictures of seats and food and tells people how to use their points, then be that. Frankly, as a loyal reader of your blog, I can find that lots of places and have little use for the blog. If what you really aspire to is to (and I think you do whether fully conscious of why many read your blog or not) is to write indirectly about life and dreams and love, through the prism of having this particular hobby and interest, it’s a more serious responsibility and you’ll have these moments more often.

    You asked a very serious question, and I thought it deserved a serious answer. Possibly it’s too much so and won’t resonate at all. Either way. If you haven’t seen Almost Famous, see it, and if you’ve seen it, see it again. There is wisdom in the scenes of the late great Philip Seymour Hoffman talking about what it means to be a critic.

  39. @patricia – so it’s okay service to be sub-standard because you didn’t pay cash for it? I was unaware award tickets actually came with service exceptions.

  40. I made my first China air line flight with C.A.A.C that was Gov’t owned back in 1978. from your review, not much has changed, except they now do not fly Russian aircraft.

    Back then, you could only purchase a “one” way ticket in and out of China , if went from Hong Kong to Shanghai you needed to buy your return ticket back to HK in Shanghai , if you made multi stops in china it was impossible to keep on schedule as many of the few planes they had were sold out for many days — One step forward 2 steeps backward

    As bad as your flight was — once I was on a over sold flight and they put in the aisles folding chairs for the extra passengers

  41. @Jonathan – I’m not sure Lucky will be able to give a representative review of CZ any time soon, his picture along with his name is probably plastered everywhere. hah.

  42. No you shouldn’t feel bad. If the purser was running a shoddy operation, she didn’t deserve her job, and somebody more deserving (theoretically) will finally get the promotion they earned.

    Just tell the truth and let the chips fall where they may…

  43. I don’t necessarily think you should feel guilty, but I also don’t think you should be shocked. While it feels to you (and your readers) like you are simply reviewing a faceless “airline”, the truth is that you’re also reviewing individual people who can be identified pretty easily (by the company, at least). The internet adds a certain level of anonymity, de-personalization and de-sensitization, which I think can make us forget when we’re talking about real people. People say stuff online that they’d never have the cojones to say in real life.

    Would you have made these same comments if you were talking to China Southern management face-to-face, while the FAs sat and listened? If so, you have no reason to feel bad.

    I find your blog entertaining, and enjoyed the posts in question. That said, if I were one of the flight attendants being written about, I probably would have gotten defensive and felt like your posts were cheap shots: “it’s not my fault the crew meals on our last flight gave us all diarrhea!” “it’s not my fault I don’t know the word napkin!” “isn’t it normal for FAs to sleep in empty F seats?”

    You didn’t just point these things out in a straightforward review, you joked about them repeatedly (including in this very post). Again, I enjoyed the jocular tone, but I think it certainly contributed to making the airline feel it was being mocked and embarrassed in a public forum, rather than just critiqued. When people feel embarrassed, they’re more likely to overreact.

  44. I would not feel bad at all. I’ve gotten many people fired from doing secret shops at restaurants. If people are not doing what they are supposed to, they shouldn’t be working there.

  45. Perhaps the punishments you’ve heard about aren’t even true. While the leaked memos may be real (or not), the rumors concerning the fate of the flight crew could be completely false. People make things up on Twitter all the time — why not on Weibo? And if the rumors are true, then I’m not sure it’s such a bad thing. China Southern obviously doesn’t believe this crew is up to the standard it wants, so it makes sense that they would be demoted until ready for the first class spotlight. Don’t change! 🙂

  46. Keep up the good work of calling it as you see it! I’ve never read of you being mean or petty and the concerns you raise with this airline are something that every traveler should know before spending their hard earned money purchasing a ticket on it.
    I love to try new airlines and services, and have tried many after reading positive experiences on your blog. Likewise, this is one airline I will stay away from until I read that there are some incredible improvements.
    A one-way revenue ticket in F class on this carrier from LAX-PEK is $10,012.89 USD on their web site. Your honesty and straightforward reporting will save people from making a $10,000+ mistake. Not to mention that I am sure their fellow Sky Team airline members need to know just how far off the mark this carrier is when it comes to the expected norms of service from an international partner.

  47. As others have said, when you stop being open, honest, and DIRECT, is when I’ll stop reading your blog.

    I understand that you feel bad, BUT you didn’t create the service issues. If, for instance, you were rude to a FA and they responded by giving you bad service and THEN you blogged just about their bad service and the go punished…in THAT case you would share blame.

    But that isn’t the case here… Unfortunately public shaming (via a western blog) is the BEST way for China Southern to find out and act upon their short comings.

  48. You are asking the right question – but need to look a bit further for an answer that might not be that black or white.

    I don’t have that perfect answer either – but I think you can write great and honest reviews and at least make it a bit less likely for this to occur again.
    I dont think your aim is for China Southern to improve their service by getting people fired.
    Hindsight is 20/20, maybe be a bit more cognizant in the future about the culture you are dealing with.
    Someone was half joking about reviewing a North Korean Airline – its ridiculous but an interesting idea as it tests the extremes of the argument. If you knew the Pursuer would go to a labor camp you probably wont try to get him linked to your post.

    So a couple of thoughts.
    – Is it really necessary for you to identify the date of your flight?
    Obviously if they know your last name they can find your reservation if they just dig a little deeper – but that doesnt mean you should serve it on a silver tray.
    It doesnt add much value to me as a reader if you fly tuesday or wednesday.
    also, as your last name is already in the rest of the blog it will be difficult to make these reviews anonymous – but does your name need to be mentioned in the very same post? again, you are really serving stuff on a silver platter. (probably could have just posted the name of the purser on your website also – but you didnt because you didnt see any point in punishing him. but if you dont want that, you should at least take the simplest precautions).

    sorry, i have to give a bit of pushback – probably some reason to feel guilty.
    keep it going though 😉

  49. Remember yesterday when you talked about all the mean things people say about you in your comments and you said that its none of your business what your readers think of you? A similar thick skin is appropriate in this instance. As long as you speak the truth, you shouldn’t fear the consequences. And you DO speak the truth.

  50. I can understand why you feel bad, but from my outsider’s perspective you shouldn’t. Honest reviews are the only ones that have value. While you owe it to your readership to be honest, you aren’t responsible for the unjust (by our Western perception) way airline management reacted. Your review may have triggered their actions, but they are responsible for their own behavior.

  51. Always be honest in your reviews. We’ve come to count on that from you, and it one of the main reasons your blog – along with Gary’s – are the first (and sometime only) ones I will generally recommend to people.

    And if I’m being honest, I expected there to be many more comments along the line of: “OMG, you’re flying on miles…your review should be filled with sunshine and smiles…and thoughts of unicorns prancing in fields”…and so on. Bravo to nearly all of the commenters.

  52. You can choose to say nothing. Just use the flight as transportation and the hotel as a place to sleep. It’s what most of us do and one reason why negative reviews like yours don’t get published. You’ll protect the employees, but you’ll also protect the management who — as you point out — really ought to be pushing for change.

    If you do review an airline or hotel, you have a responsibility to be honest.

  53. I agree with the previous posts, and one point in particular.
    Continue to be honest and fair in your reviews, supporting criticism of product/service with evidence and contextual examples of why it doesn’t measure up to competitors.

    As someone said above, for those airlines that you know may punish service staff particularly severely based on public reports, you may choose to not mention the date and hour of the flight. What matters most to your readers? The two cities involved, the aircraft type, the airline and service review. If you leave out date/hour, then management would be less able to pin it on one staff team in particular, and instead hopefully enforce changes across the board.

  54. Edit to add: What I mean by “most of us” is not “most bloggers choosing to suppress reviews” but rather “most people don’t write reviews at all.”

  55. Ben, do not feel bad and drown your sorrow in Ben & Jenny’s (the Chinese copycat’ing a product or a genuine typo?! If typo = management’s fault).
    China Southern needs to train their FAs more in service and language and they are lucky that your review pointed their noses to their problems.
    It is not you that is responsible for what happened to any FAs on your flight but it is the management that made the decisions of reprimanding/demoting FAs and not acknowledging that they might not have been capable of rendering a better service due to the management not setting certain standards beforehand and teaching those to/training the FAs!
    Keep on writing as objectively as you have done in the past and by that improving service for future travelers on China Southern.
    I wonder if you will get an invitation for another flight with them in the future to review their improved soft product!
    Cheers B

  56. If I’ve learned anything it’s that ALL complaints or negative feedback are some how the fault of the staff and not management.

    But in my opinion, 99% of the negative feedback is due to management. Even the small things. It’s just incredible how poor budging or infrastructure of a company can leave the employees looking like a dope.

    Also, a lot of people get hurt when the right/wrong person is honest.

    In my opinion, don’t focus on negative service aspects but instead things like $5 sparkling wine… because that’s funny… well so is people sleeping in first class. But still, in other words, focus more on management issues. They are being cheap, micromanaging, they’re always clueless, etc… And then management can’t kick the dog, so to speak. They won’t fire/demote themselves.

    I think you do a good job of staying in check, but maybe it’s a moment to reevaluate.

  57. I’m actually surprised you have been so “polite” about some of the things that have happened to you on your flights (This one and some of the others like US Airways). My blood instantly starts to boil when I get rude/surly/over-entitled FA’s when there are so many FA’s who work damn hard to do a great job. Keep being honest or lose credibility. I think you’ve got the perfect balance between honesty and politeness.

  58. Lucky, please continue the good work, the FAs are definitely responsible and deserve to be punished and demotion to econ seems reasonable. As a Chinese expat in US, I’ve personally had issue with CZ’s China-US routes but exposing them as a widely recognized western traveler would force them to shame so that they may improve. Good service has to start from somewhere, right?
    BTW I do have very good experience on CA and HU’s new C class(77W and 787) in China-US routes, I would choose them over UA and AA anytime.

  59. I think you’re butting up against the distinctions between western and mainland Chinese work attitudes. I work half the year in southern China and it’s unfortunate that if you don’t force a shaming you receive a *shrug* attitude and a *shrug* product. As JL said, embarrassment causes people to lash out but in China it’s curiously the only way that you can shake people out of that complacency and get them to meet the standards expected. The problem for China Southern is that it’s definitely top down complacent and you shouldn’t feel bad for being honest in your reviews.

  60. Your job or to simplify, your passion is to report on such trips. Keep doing it. This clearly is a shitty management that is responding to solving the problem in an equally shitty manner. Not your fault, not your concern, nothing more for you to do.

  61. With great power comes great responsibility. Your voice gets heard. Congrats.

    I would be absolutely honest when it comes to things that are clearly business decisions from higher-ups.

    But-and I know I’m against the majority here-
    I’d probably be considerably more vague when complaining about individuals if I thought they would be disproportionately punished.

    You’re a human first, blogger second, and must abide by your conscience.

  62. Agree with most others. The least thing I’m concerned with on foreign carriers is their command of the English language. Can always find a way to get the point across, and you did. Mgmt should sponsor their training in alternate languages though. In this case mgmt spends as little as possible.
    So if the carrier offers you a comped 1st class tkt in the future to try them again, would you take it ?

  63. The crew took over the F cabin and lav for their own personal benefit. They inconveniened you in order to do it; it was already planned in advance. They were doing this on every flight and you brought it to light. They absolutely deserve a reprimand, if they still have jobs they are fortunate.

  64. Don’t worry, Lucky. The flight attendants may hate you, but just remember that your readers love you!

  65. What is wrong with cabin crew members occupied first class seats to rest? I don’t get it. The crew members need rest, and they should be respected. As long as they don’t occupy your seat or any paid seat, I don’t see any problems of crew member occupy some empty first class seats.

  66. Am I naive to think that companies should have a flag on top read travel bloggers & reporters profiles? I don’t know that a company like China Southern would know Lucky, but some of the other big boys like you would think flag passengers like himself, Gary ect. Unlike a restaurant critic, its very hard to be anonymous so I would go out of my way to make these guys experiences perfect.

  67. Love your blog, Lucky!

    Let me just say this off the bat:
    I like to over-think things.
    I think the “leaks” might not be leaks after-all. It could be a “show” to settle the social media attention on this for China Southern. Yes, some people will face consequences. I don’t think there will be much changes to your flight experience on China Southern or any mainland based China airlines due to this. Again, for “show.” However, what will change is that in the future, when a mainland based airline cabin crew see a foreigner, they will do things differently. They will probably be more alert and that it will be harder for you to get the “real” and “honest” experience. Just my 2 cents.

  68. I’m glad for your honesty.

    I had booked a flight in first on China Southern for next month, but based on your review cancelled it. I would have been furious if I had spent over $11k on a ticket to then experience what you did. To find out a review was watered down as to not effect others would have been unacceptable as well.

    I read you because of your honest evaluations. Without that, I’d have to always wonder if there was a spin on your story and why…….

  69. I can share your surprise that the power of a widely-read blog can surprise the author. Comments are read by management which typically uses a service that gleans comments posted by others about their company.

    The important thing for a blogger is to be OBJECTIVE. It’s OK to report factual information (cabin crew was sleeping in First Class seats, passengers from other cabins were sleeping in First Class seats, the First Class bathroom was constantly used and dirty/smelly; the food was not of First Class quality).

    Sometimes it’s best to hold back on snakiness and sarcasm (I can be guilty of that as well), as that’s not objective … although many readers truly enjoy this!

    Your job is to report what you observe. It’s up to your readers to deal with that information as they see fit, and you’re not responsible for readers’ actions. It’s a reflection of the airline’s corporate culture that they responded punitively to the cabin crew. Although you feel badly for the crew members, ultimately you’re not responsible.

    I think this reflects extremely poorly on China Southern’s management whose response was to blame those at the bottom of the food chain. Was the Manager in charge of Flight Attendant Training demoted? Was the airline’s sparkling wine sommelier fired for making lousy choices and bringing dishonor upon his company? Did anyone in management incur a loss of income due to their mismanagement? No — they took it out on poor flight attendants.

    Just my 2¢

  70. I completely agree with SteveDCA (#51). Your reviews are never mean or ill-intentioned and I don’t believe you’ve ever called out someone in particular by name.

    In this case, you shouldn’t feel very bad. Possibly some crew members got demoted/disciplined but it was just a handful of people. Whereas, your reviews can (and do) influence a much greater number of travelers. So if you aren’t completely open in your reviews, it can potentially ruin experience for a lot more people (many of whom don’t travel as often and this could be their only trip for awhile).

    Perhaps, you can try to be very specific about which issues are caused by management (and, thus, are likely to result in similar experiences on other flights) and which are caused by poor FAs, but please keep doing what you do!

    P.S. Given that Lucky’s name is publicly known and his travel details can be easily looked up by airline management, what would it help if he avoided listing exact dates?

  71. @Lucky – You are The BEST, hands down. You reported honestly about a bad experience and the people that provided the experience were reprimanded and here’s the important part;


    You have such a good heart man. Gary over at View from the Wing had a broadly similar situation where he got poor service in a hotel in China (I think) recently, over coffee service and someone might have gotten fired. I think the post was last week or so but the dang thing threw up a sh*t-storm on the comments about people defending and attacking Gary and defending and attacking the people at the hotel. In all of this, and this is the important part;

    HE DID NOT FEEL BAD. (Or anything at all judging from remarks)

    Now I’m sorry to have to compare You and Gary and even though others may dislike him, I think he’s not as bad as some say. But here’s the difference.

    You felt something for the people that were affected even when it was not your fault and even though your post was most certainly culturally more sensitive then Gary’s.

    I’ve been following you for years man and I read about how people love you and think you are great and how you are a very nice person, very good son, and good man.

    All I’m saying is this. You have nothing to feel bad about, you did nothing wrong and you are most importantly a sympathetic, good human being that cares about people, even those that leave poop streaks behind for you in the bathroom.

    You’re a good guy Ben.

  72. I imagine your review reached some pretty high levels in China-likely the “real” owners of China Southern-and the flight attendants and others involved are very lucky they were merely demoted or admonished. Honest opinions in China can have unintended serious consequences.

  73. Maybe when you write about QR first class, don’t mention the date … surely they won’t fire everyone who’s worked the route in the past year.

  74. While I understand your distress, it is possible that the flight attendants did knowingly break some rules, e.g. use of lavatory and sleeping in first class seats. If it is indeed company policy for employees not to sleep in the first class cabin, but they did so anyway, and the purser allowed it to happen, then I can certainly see the fairness in their being demoted.

    However, you are correct in that management is certainly more to blame here than the flight attendants.

    But the main point is, stay honest Lucky!

  75. You really have no alternative other than to be frank and honest. It’s what has made you successful (along with the humor) and it’s what I value in your blog. I feel I can trust what you write because you call ’em like you see ’em, you have a pretty good perspective on what’s good, and you identify your own biases (from time to time).

    My guess is that the FAs were punished for violating what was already a company policy (not sleeping in the F seats and not using the F bathroom). I doubt they were punished because the food was bad or the “champagne” cheap. (that last bit about the Champagne is hilarious, and a sign of how far China Southern has to go that this is even possible).

    I don’t think it’s like the Qatar Airways situation at all. The Chinese can be pretty rough managers, but you don’t have the deep seated misogyny that drives what’s going on at Qatar. Instead, I think it’s more that the managers of China Southern are fighting hard to instill a service culture in their airline that doesn’t come naturally to the culture in general. I’ve talked to many in the service industry in China about this, and there doesn’t seem to be a consensus on what it is. Some think that the chaos and destruction of the communist era and, especially, the Cultural Revolution caused deep changes in the public culture, how people treat strangers. Others think it’s just a different culture from what you find in places like Thailand, just not as nice, rougher edges. It’s a larger discussion going on there, and becomes especially poignant in cases like that poor toddler in Foshan in 2011 run over repeatedly as others walked by and ignored her.

  76. Your blog is a source of your insights and where you think a standard is different, you should speak up.

    Kudos to China Southern for taking your post so seriously – I wish more airlines were using comments and feedback as a way to improve their services.

    Crew might be facing disciplinary action for things they were not entitled to – e.g. sleeping in the First Class seats or upgrading passengers. That’s how the cookie crumbles.

  77. Don’t feel guilty! While it’s sad, management should feel guilty not you! Keep it real! Don’t let it get to you. You didn’t do anything wrong. What happened to that thick skin, Trip Advisor mentality you wrote about?? I value your honesty and omitting a negative review would be a disservice to your blog.

  78. @Lucky,
    Fully support you! Keep up your great work!

    For over a decade, I have been trying to avoid, as often as possible, taking any China’s airlines because of 1. their poor service; 2. arrogant attitude. I am glad to find your post DID help them improve their service. I salute to you and wish more and more travelers like you to speak out frankly and you guys will eventually help make China’s airlines deliver better and quality service.

    You are helping these airlines, at the cost of their atendent’s welfare. It is worthwhile!!!

  79. Not at all!!! Accountability is what is sorely needed in far too many things, companies and governments…..I am happy to see China Southern taking serious action based on your review. I had written them off completely after reading your first review but now due to their action, I am willing to give them another chance.

  80. I suppose you can review Air India which will make all Chinese airlines look like CX or SQ! Though I warn you that after one scathing review it would be you who would be in trouble if you dared to fly them again and not the crew or management.

  81. @Andy
    not defending CZ, but I think Chinese airlines actually have much economy class in terms of both hard products and soft products than their american competitors in US-Asia routes (much much lenient baggage policy too). I haven’t had a chance to try F or J class since I am just a poor college student.

  82. @masimons #68, I totally disagree with you but for other reasons. If their command of the English language isn’t great, eventually you will get the point across if you need something. But if there’s an emergency, I do not want to be in a situation where I’m being given instructions by a stressed out FA who can’t speak English properly. I’d like to think that of the FAs on board some did have a decent grasp of the English language! Especially since the origin was in the US. Given there was someone else besides Mr Chow and Mr Zhou in F, they should’ve had one servicing F too.


  83. it’s very common for China airline mgmt. punish their employee vs fix their own issue.

    it’s common for FA sleep in Firstclass and upgrade their friends.

    China airline FAs’ English is horrible, period.

    why do you feel guilty? I would never fly firstclass for this airline with $5 sparkling wine, period.

  84. 1) Honest reviews are crucial. As others have stated, I appreciate the fair, balanced approach you take.
    2) Although the consequences of this review appear to have been negative, you should not feel bad or change your approach. Have some Ben & Jerry’s and move on. Or better yet, have some real Champagne!
    3) China Southern needs to wake up to the current reality. It doesn’t take much research to see what other international carriers are offering as well as current passenger expectations. If they truly intend to offer “First Class” on any long haul flights, they should be cognizant of this and make the necessary adjustments. Based on the food and service provided, it almost seems that they are really intending to offer economy, premium economy and business rather than the current configuration. Their “champagne” would still need an upgrade though.

  85. Your review is honest. However, your reaction to the consequences of your review is at best naive, and border on disingenuous. You know that you have an audience, and the chances that the reviews will get back to management are good. Seriously, you never stop to think that a negative review can lead to harsh corrective actions?? Com’on! Whether it’s Chinese or US company, that’s not something you control.

    To kvetch about how guilty you feel is like a 16 year old girl feeling bad that the 20 year old guy she gave a hand job went to jail after she posted the selfie of the act on her Facebook page.

    You did a public service – grow a pair and own it…

  86. What if the airline’s response to your blog post actually triggers a change in their management practice? I.e. the ridiculous punishment of their employees in order to save their own face backfires and creates a sea-change within Chinese management culture to take more responsibility themselves? Wouldn’t that be something… you would have made the world a better place for millions of Chinese employees!

  87. 1st class china southern LAX to CAN is priced at ~ 8000.
    1st class LAX to FRA is priced at ~ 13000.

    Therefore, I dont think you should make fun of the sparkling wine. It’s like you go to walmart to buy a T shirt, paying walmart price and yet you expect Nordstrom packaging and quality.

  88. Perhaps the best option in the future would to just not list information linking to the exact flight. This way the company couldn’t track it down to the exact crew that was operating the flight. Routes make sense but exact dates are not really necessary to our review. Would be the best way to be honest in reviews without endangering the careers of the crew. just my 2 cents

  89. My goodness, Ben. I feel horrible for you. I felt your review was excellent and as horrible as this situation is, you did not demote the flight attendants or even suggest it. It is probably good that changes come of it, but I suspect this is mainly a management issues (and I am NOT a pro-union kind of guy at all). Got to love when they blame others for their failings? They serve $5 sparkling wine and they don’t think anyone will notice? good grief.

  90. As a Chinese American expat living in Asia and working for an American company, I can tell you this doesn’t surprise me at all. Our company actually have a policy when booking international tickets for non China based employees/clients. We must get approved before ticketing a flight on any mainland China airlines. Usually the secretaries will only book flights via Cathay and will only rarely book flights with mainland China air lines due to timing of the flights. Cathay is probably laughing themselves to the bank. Yes, it’s more expensive but do you really want your top management or clients arriving in your office after a 15 hour flight on China Southern? Especially for many it’s their first time in China and they are there to make a potential deal.

    Lucky, thank you for our honest review. Please continue write/blog as you are doing.

  91. More people should post reviews! – I read Skytrax and these are (mostly) honest daily reviews by passengers. Employees are aware of their company’s policies and practices – both good and poor. These employees choose to work for these companies and behave as they do.

    Ultimately, if the service improves, then the company is doing the right things. If not, then the company’s management is corrupt/abusing its employees, indifferent (United Airlines), or incompetent. Those that improve will ultimately survive. Our honesty helps everyone.

  92. The info provided by you is good and appreciated by many – however I wholeheartedly agree with Patricia’s post – if a passenger is on a paid, revenue ticket, even a revenue paying passenger using a mileage upgrade – then yes, that revenue passenger might be exceptionally offended as you were about a FA occupying a suite. A revenue psgr has a right to not experience that. But, when one is flying (for all intense and purposes) as a “non-rev”, I firmly believe your post was hypercritical on the FA for sleeping. Who knows, maybe she was taking a rest break. I’ve seen that happen on many an over night flight.

    Yes, the bathroom SHOULD have been maintained and cleaned, no excuse for that. I mean, how expensive are surgical-type gloves? Maybe more expensive than their “champagne”?

    In lieu of who’s sleeping where and with whom, the key critique should have been the obvious lack of a command of English, because in an emergency, THAT’s what matters.

    Of all your flights, I find it hard to believe that you have not ever noticed or even possiby suspected there might be a FA (or airport staff) family or friend occupying a seat up front. Of all the flights we’ve flown and miles earned (on revenue tickets) there’ve been a number of times we’ve seen this happen but we didn’t fall apart at the seams.

    Of course management, at whichever level and department (s), should indeed bear the brunt of these less than perfect situations and fix them, however you and everyone else posting here KNOWS deep down that’ll never happen.

    Posting your honest experiences is important to many here but should concentrate on what really counts: safety, hygiene, seat comfort and selection of food and drink. Whether the Suite Fairy paid a visit after takeoff or not shouldn’t.

  93. I just want to pile on here, despite the bajillion other comments. I have come to really like your blog, not just because you go to interesting places and review great products. You are also a very nice person and you give even-handed reviews. In fact, if anything, you are probably a touch too nice or generous in your negative reviews because you’re a nice guy and you don’t want to be too hard on anyone.

    I get where you’re coming from, feeling badly, because you feel responsible for the flight attendants’ suffering – but it’s not your fault. You were honest and you were right to be frank so we could all know what to expect – it’s not your fault if the company are d*cks to their employees and punish the lower ranks for the faults of management.

    Please keep being 100% honest in your reviews.

  94. This is so unfortunate.

    Five years ago when I visited the St. Regis Beijing, I had a very similar experience. I was unhappy that a lot of things were missing from the room, and that our requests were brushed off. I went down to the lobby to let them know.

    I had no idea at the time that my complaint would land people in hot water. It was taken so seriously that the second most senior person working there received a very public and humiliating reprimand in front of everyone down in the lobby. I couldn’t do anything by then, and I wished I never said anything in the first place. ‘t was, of course, not her fault at all, just lack of departmental communication in general. If I remember correctly, she told me she worked in accounting, not at all guest experience related.

    I felt very guilty afterwards. I also avoided staying at any St. Regis for half a decade after that. The experience left me very sad, and oddly, it became something I associated with that brand for a long time afterwards.

  95. Ben,
    I feel really really bad, enough to cry with you over a bottle of the 5$ stuff they served on the plane.
    I think you should have 2 blogs – one for us readers who try to do the same deals as you in style and 1 for the airlines to read
    AND the airline one should be a paid subscription, with no cc offers.
    You can write good stuff about all employees there (for a fee) and do not have to feel embarrassed that your view is not unbiased there.

    Both in India and China, airlines pretend to be world class, but are not up to it. No one expects an african airline to be world class. The good ones know they have to improve EVERY bit of it and not just buy a new plane and be done with it.

  96. As a China Southern Airline Gold member, I think you did a favor to the airline and its customers by giving an honest and mild review. I didn’t find any harsh and untruthful facts in your review. Chinese company likes to take their employees punishment for their poor management system and training. It’s sad the crew was punished by some of their own faults and the lack of proper trainings given by their company. However, it’s always good to have some action to be done than nothing after all. I do hope CZ can pick up their game if they want to be more recognized in the international routes and markets. Thank you again for your review as always!

  97. You’re a big boy to know that this isn’t your fault. Methinks you wrote this post to get all your readers to slobber all over you in make-me-feel-betters.

  98. Simple. Passengers should avoid airlines where management is too stupid or full of themselves to know or care when a problem requires them to change (better training, leadership as to what is expected) and when the employees need to be changed.

    Plenty of companies pull this off because they know doing so is in their long term best interest. Obviously China Southern isn’t one of them.

    Solution? Fly another airline.

  99. @Lucky

    You’re at a critical juncture in your blogging career. People don’t read this blog anymore just to check how many spoonfuls of caviar they’re getting on their next F flight. We’re swayed by your candid reviews and your opinion can help or hurt the public perception of an airline. We need this.

    And another thing, your brutal honesty is a crucial part of the “uniqueness” that makes your blog successful. Don’t be afraid of what that honesty entails. You should definitely feel terrible about what happened to the crew who served you on that CZ flight, but instead of shying away from your influence, use it to create more posts like this one. Call out CZ for their cruel, almost vindictive response to what is obviously a managerial problem. Make it clear that you’re commenting on what you believe to be a systemic issue, not some one-off experience with a band of rogue flight attendants.

    You’re doing a stellar job. Now go back to talking about real trips, not guilt trips.

  100. You’ve developed a successful business predicated on the notion that you are going to travel the world and publicly report on the quality of service you receive.

    Having reached a substantial level of success, it’s naive in the extreme to expect that your reporting will not have consequences. If you report negatively on an identifiable person you ought to expect that there’s a real chance that the person will suffer negative consequences — up to termination of employment — as the direct result of your report. It’s even true that in some cases a positive review might have negative consequences (if, for instance, the person did you a favor you weren’t entitled to).

    If you’re not willing to shoulder that responsibility then you ought not to use your platform to comment on identifiable individuals. I think most people believe “let the chips fall where they may, they got what’s coming to them” and while I won’t argue with them, personally I would not be happy with myself if I knew that someone had suffered as a consequence of my feeling that they were not sufficiently attentive to my needs.

    Probably not what you were hoping to hear, but I’m in a pretty tiny minority (of one, it seems!) so you needn’t give my opinion any weight.

  101. Why feel guilty? You gave an honest review of your experience, and the employees/company clearly did not deliver. Those who slept in the cabin must’ve known what they did was wrong. They were lucky they weren’t fired. Re: champagne – maybe the FAs swapped the cheap stuff in for the champagne (otherwise, I can’t imagine that China Southern would call that out in the memo).

    Anyway, its not like you need to be consoled, since you must know what you write has ramifications. That said, in this case, whatever disciplinary action taken was fine. It’s not like they all lost their jobs.

  102. Thank you foe the honest assessment of the airline from American point of view. If some one doesn’t like cultural differences, they can read Chinese blogger’s review of the same flight.

  103. I’d feel exactly like you do… kind of guilty, but I’d also know that deep down inside you can’t sugarcoat when something just isn’t right. Sometimes it s*cks to tell it like it is, but I would’ve done the same thing.

    My mom always told me, never write something that you wouldn’t be embarrassed reading in the newspaper the next day. So, in that respect I would’ve written exactly what you did…. although I wouldn’t like it to be in a newspaper (or Weibo), I’d still know that I’d have stood by my comments.

  104. Some more leaks: Not only cabin crews were demoted and fined, almost all VPs and manager in cabin department and catering company are fined. CEO took this very serious and has organized more than three top management meetings already.

  105. Don’t feel guilty.

    You gave an honest and kind review. Sometimes the truth is not kind.

    Those staff who may be punished for choices they made on your flight made those choices. No one had a gun to their head.

    Your criticism will help China Southern vastly improve their soft product. They should PAY you for your feedback. It’s too bad they weren’t smart enough to ask for this kind of criticism on their own.

  106. As the 116th comment, I don’t expect that folks will see this — but I did want to offer a slightly different view.

    I agree with others that this blog should include honest, uncut reviews – but, as this post points out, many of these were MANAGEMENT failures. Perhaps future reviews should include not only a description of the crew behavior (& food reviews), but be more explicit on where the fault likely lies. I think that if your review had been of the business (not personnel) failures, the Assistant President might have taken different corrective measures.

  107. Still laughing at Pavel’s comments!! Having lived in Hong Kong I noticed a trend among Chinese companies that action was not taken to improve service of any kind unless “face” was lost by being shown in a bad light by Western media. Then all hell would break loose.

  108. I never wanted to complain because I’m generally a passive person. I’ll take what comes my way. My feelings changed when I became a manager. I always think now, “If I was this person’s boss, would I want to know how they treated me in this situation?” Any company can choose to react how they want. Some are proactive and usually you don’t have problems with those. Some tend to be reactive. This seems to be what is happening in this case. Even if the actions were generally overlooked or knowingly accepted, the attention brought to them forced management to react. You can not take the blame for that. It could have been anyone’s tweet, blog or article which made this happen. As long as you are honest and don’t sensationalize the story, keep writing your views and people will do with the information what they will.

  109. You shouldn’t feel guilty at all. You simply wrote a review of your experience. I don’t think China Southern should have demoted the employees. Ultimately, like you said, it’s management’s fault for not enforcing better standards and training. If I we’re you I’d write to the airline and ask them to un-demote the employees and maybe focus on retraining them (since the employees generally seemed nice).

  110. It is completed find for you giving honst comments. Don’t feel guilty, it is just cultural difference about “punishment”, and as I know, such punishment is not only for crew but also management officers, so to some extent it is fair. And the crew being published still get chances of promotion if he/she perform well in jobs, so don’t worry, keep yourself in way.

  111. I think you need to remember.. you are doing your job… writing reviews. They were not doing theirs. Don’t sacrifice your work ethic (Writing honest reviews) because someone got in trouble for not doing their job. If you were not doing your job, no one would be reading this right now.

  112. You were speaking on other passenger’s behalf–many of us had these subpar experience and we had no place to channel those frustrations. On a funny note, if that internal memo had a disclaimer that stated, “the western blogger is merely 23yo kid” I bet the Chinese would not have taken you so seriously.

  113. @David G finally said what I’d been thinking, i.e., maybe the reason they “didn’t have” a printed beverage list is that in fact they did have a printed beverage list, but it said they served Krug and Lynch-Bages and JW Blue, and the FAs were pinching all of that and instead serving swill that they picked up at Smart & Final on their way to the airport….

    OK, probably not, but it’s certainly possible that your review revealed service shortfalls that you didn’t even recognize as such. Maybe there were delicious hot mid-flight snacks and the crew ate them all. You can’t really know, so please just keep reporting the truth as you see it.

  114. Hi Ben, please understand that the way things are done in china is very, very different and so there is no reason to feel bad. You were just being honest and honestly, it’s time the Chinese raise their standard like they claim to have. We were living in guangzhou for 4 years and my husband was in charge of the entire creative team. During this time, we have learned that the majority of Chinese “work” to get by and not to climb up the social ladder. If they can get things done with the least amount of effort, that will be their go-to route. Of course, he met a few that were hardworking but even then, you can’t begin to compare. We also made tons of friends with locals and that’s just the way they are and there is nothing wrong with that. However, being an international flight carrier especially in first class, that is a totally different conversation. No one in their right minds should ever pay for this kind of service! Keep up the great work, Ben! 🙂

  115. I also appreciate the honesty in reviews because it helps me decide which airlines I will redeem on and which I won’t. It’s not really your fault that management decided to misuse the information that you gave by punishing the crew instead of making changes from the top.

    Perhaps to mitigate the chances of these types of reactions though, whenever you write a critical review, you can make it clear when it’s not something that is the fault of the crew and is instead something that the airline management should address. That might help, at least a little, to make sure that the criticism goes to the right people.

  116. Hi Ben. I read a reasonable amount of these replies and I have to agree with most of them. You do your reviews. You honestly review every airline you fly. If it was Cathay or Singapore that gave great or bad service or Delta or American… you don’t really care. You just do what you do. You wouldn’t have the following you do if you always just said everything was great or omitted the stuff that was messed up.

    Don’t change how you do things at all.

    My Business Class flights on China Eastern were similar and if I can avoid it, I won’t fly Chinese airlines again because of it.

    China may be trying to become a world super power but they sure don’t have service down.

  117. They took actions in Chinese way, and when you feel bad about it, you are perceiving it differently in American way. So don’t feel sad. I think you did the right thing. It’s THAT competitive in virtually anything in China, even when queueing in banks trying to fight for a spot, and people are kinda used to and ready for it. Your sympathy is not going to change that overnight. It’s cruel reality, or bloody truth as some call it.

  118. Actions have consequences. As long as you were honest with your reviews, the consequences of THEIR actions are something the crew have to deal with.

    I’ve been in similar situations as airline management where poor performance of various staff has been brought to my attention via social media. Facts are facts. If the service delivery was inadequate, the method by which I came to know about it was not really relevant.

  119. It’s a great testament that you are having this conservation with your readers in an honest and transparent way……..
    While I wouldn’t encourage you to feel guilty what this teaches is perhaps that you write reviews where management can’t single out individual crews because your reviews at an individual level can be devastating as you see here……..
    But the dissection of the airline management staff is absolutely spot on and you should continue that in full force because you make the industry better by these reviews and if they want to dismiss you then they always have that choice………
    Finally I appreciate you fly these “bad” carriers so I know which ones to steer clear of………….

  120. You’ve experienced many airlines’ first class products, and you appreciate the details that make up superb service. I suspect that few people have such extensive experience. You should definitely continue to write reviews based on your knowledge. Your reviews help your readers to decide if it’s worthwhile to choose First or Business class, and, if so, which airlines will provide an exceptional flight.
    I’m very sorry for staff who are over-punished. China Southern clearly needs to adopt quality improvement procedures rather than lashing out at employees.

  121. I’m the founder and CEO of a company, and we get a lot of reviews about our products posted online. Whenever there is a negative review, we have internal meetings and try to improve our products and service.

    You’re doing everyone, including the company, a service by writing honest reviews. If the FA’s performed poorly, then they deserve the demotion. Same goes for the management.

  122. Add me to list of keep it real, keep it honest. Nuff said.

    To all of those who seem surprised an airline took action: Shouldn’t we expect just the opposite?

    Why don’t other airlines take similar actions to bad reviews? How many TPACs on UA or AA must F or J passengers endure loud conversations or complaining by FAs in the galley, poor service because they are just not paying any attention, or FAs pounding up and down the aisle during sleeptime with steps that shake the cabin?

  123. No need to feel bad. You did your job. If crew had done their’s we would have read a boring flight review focusing on poor food.
    I just wish you had pics of those crew sleeping in F and maybe you should start carrying a “Smell-O-Meter” sort of like noise meters in stadiums.

  124. If you really want to play the role of the “good guy” blogger maybe you could stop with the schadenfreude posts containing videos of unstable passengers you never met on flights you never flew? Those mocking posts about people who never did anything to you make this sudden display of concern less believable.

    From reading all hundred-thirty odd replies above mine it would seem nearly everyone wants you to continue posting as accurately and objectively as possible. I concur with that sentiment completely. Personally I think your reviews of top level services are rather soft already. Making them even softer (either intentionally or subconsciously) would make me hesitate to keep reading them.

  125. “this leaves me feeling really sad. Like, sitting in my bathtub with a pint of Ben & Jenny’s sad.”

    in a serious post, you threw this in and managed to make me laugh for a minute straight. hilarious.

  126. Yes, you should feel guilty. You claim to feel bad about what happened as a result of your review but in the same breath/sentence you hyperlinked to a photo of the menu showing the misspelling on the menu, thereby reminding everyone AGAIN of this particular deficiency. Do you have any sincerity at all or do you just enjoy being passive-aggressive/sarcastic? People’s livelihoods are at stake here. But that’s okay, mommy still loves you and you still have a legion of mindless, adoring fanboys and girls here who will hang on your every word. Well done, you ought to be so proud of yourself.

  127. your honesty prevails and it does the airline a favor. unlike a certain japanese carrier that started out as a helicopter company and tries to fly a plane upside down, the chinese airline is taking action. the helicopter company would apologize heartfelt and say things you wanna hear and then not do much. trust me. after a few complaints, a senior chief purser was told during a briefing the passenger was a foreigner and doesnt understand japanese customs. go figure. kudos to your honesty and good for China Southern for taking steps.

  128. Don’t feel guilty at all for your opinions. You gave China Southern a free audit and hopefully it will serve as a wakeup call. If Chinese airlines that fly to western countries want to be treated as equals with Korean, Emirates, Cathay, etc., then management should improve their soft/hard products.
    As far as your question on reviewing Qatar, please review them as you would any other airline. All the flight attendants at Qatar know the consequences (i.e. freezing bank accounts, deportation, etc.) for their failures. However, at China Southern, flight attendants probably think what they did was the norm for their airline and were thus surprised by what management did as a result of your review.

  129. This should give you some pause to consider what to actually write in a review….. I don’t have much problems with most of your statements but the quality of English spoken might be a bit much. Their target audience is really not Americans, and you might look at your own language skills before judging others publicly.

    Management should be able to judge the value of comments in view of their training policies. But in some of these countries a (public) complaint has consequences even when the complaint isn’t quite fair.

  130. Love your blog… Keep it going EXACTLY the way you’re doing it.

    The real question is… Will CZ management take the REAL action that’s needed, and address the shortcomings that they’re responsible for?

  131. I flew Air China PVG-PEK and HKG-PEK nested in a AA award to HKG using UA miles in business
    The service compared to even Dragon Air was pathetic.
    I did SIN to PEK a year later due to lack of choices.
    I will not even begin to compare to Cathay HKG routes.
    FYI, Air China owns a chunk of Cathay as well. It is the same govt owning shares via different routes in everything anyway..
    This has a lot more comments than even your relocation to SEA.

  132. Surely you’ll never fly Qatar, now you’re aware of how they treat their employees? I don’t know about you, but I couldn’t sit there and write a review, with that in the back of my mind.

    You can’t just say I don’t care about that, I only review the products for ‘you guys’. Take a stand and show you care about the people to. Even if Qatar don’t.

  133. I actually thought that it is fine even if Flight Attendants sleep in a First Cabin, so long as they do not disturb other guests when they are off-shift, and those on-shift ones respond promptly.

    However, it is another matter when ALL the Flight Attendants come and use the First Class Cabin’s Toilet, and made it dirty and occupied 90% of the time. This is extremely ridiculous as top dollar is paid for First Cabin, and you would expect the team managing the First Cabin to keep it very clean!

    The worst mistake of all is to do unauthorised “upgrade” for their family and friends by the crew, or even worse, accept a token amount of money and bringing these people into First Cabin.

    Unauthorised people/families squeezing into one First Cabin Suite and creating a lot of noise is a sure way to destroy an airline’s reputation in delivering their top product.

    I am not surprised that disciplinary action has been taken; and while it seem harsh, but this is pure abuse by the flight attendants, and if they do not take their jobs seriously, they should be thankful they still have a job with just a demotion.

    As for the cheap sparkling wine, let’s wait and see what that their response is? I really wonder what the head of F&B said about the value of these sparkling wines (perhaps he inflated the value by tens of times and his bosses were not aware?) – but it is extremely strange that the CEO will approve a $5 bottle sparkling to be served in First Cabin. Given how the very rich in China brings in expensive Bordeaux Reds to drink, it would be very strange to actually try to serve a cheap sparkling. Now that the actual price is reviewed, it must have been a tremendous loss of face for the CEO and he will be hopping mad.

    As for the poor catering of food, I am actually more lenient on this: while food can be really delicious when first cooked and served, but if packaging and storage techniques are weak, it will still turn up poor in the skies. Somehow, my expectations are not so high for CZ packaging, though it is certainly an area for improvement.

    And finally for poor command of English, I think the airline could have hired people who are more proficient in both English and Chinese, but it is not something that I will bashing on, cos you can still deliver very decent service even with some language barriers, but I believe the real problem here is the staff did not try hard enough.
    (Or maybe the only thing they tried hard is to fill up the First Cabin!)

    I believe this is a good write-up, and it makes CZ wake up and perhaps after this shake-up, CZ may end up having a real competitive global premium product, as they already have a very good hardware!

  134. As many people said, don’t feel too bad for the review, you were just honest with yourself and with your reader and that’s why the number of your readers have been constantly increasing.

    Please don’t change who you are and the way you write 🙂

    ps : About the language skill, we are talking about first class on an international flight and I’m sorry to say but in every first class, FA should master english and especially from/to US/UK… If you can’t master english as a second language, I’m sorry but your place is not on a plane in first class… It should be in economy or doing only national travels in your own country.

  135. Wow–this post elicited a huge array of responses which collectively have said it all, in fact very eloquently. Nice job everyone!

  136. Hi there,

    I feel bad about what has happened to the crew on that lax-can flight because I know from personal experience from working with Chinese airlines that they do not provide enough space for the cabin crew to sleep. Now, CZ has a crew rest area of 9 or 10 bunk beds on their upper deck for crew to rest in, but with a crew of 28-30 which is standard for CZ, it is very difficult for crew to get enough sleep to function. Although your review regarding first class meals and drinks being revolting is 100% fair and warranted, I feel as though the airline has taken only parts of your review to heart (like the crew sleeping in first class). I think perhaps you should change the way you comment on specific service relating to individuals as airlines like these among Chinese and Middle Eastern carriers) clearly don’t care about their staff and perhaps just make a more broad statement regarding crew service. It seems as though they did try to please you and mainly it was their lack of English, and cultural barriers that brought that down, not their poor service skills. I am a member of Weibo and also have friends that work for china southern who say the crew from first class were also fined one months salary, along with demotions and other seemingly harsh punishments. Perhaps china southern needs to hire more of their Dutch and other English speaking crew to improve their service.

  137. Haha. Lucky doesn’t understand the POWER of the Internet. Sorry I haven’t been as plugged in lately but since I don’t personally Bah log, I’m sure I wasn’t missed. Have a great week everyone. The unfortunate “side” issue to this is within domestic markets just like with anyting ( the mall,gov’t svcs, bartenders, etc), you’re basically going to see the opposite reaction. Oh you didn’t “like” your blankety blank, well go blankly blankety blanketely blank blank.

  138. Here’s another vote saying you did the right thing. You have an OBLIGATION to your readers to publish honest reviews, REGARDLESS of the outcome. Your reviews are spot on — not exaggerated — so no need to feel guilty.

  139. Or how about don’t give the exact date of the flight? Yeah, they probably could still look through the passenger records to narrow down which flight it was, but it makes it a bit harder to locate. I also don’t think knowing which date the flight was on serves much of a purpose for blog readers.

  140. Thank you! Finally someone that understands that you can still keep honest reviews without directly calling crew members out and endangering their jobs/livelihood. Thank you!

  141. 100+ posts, and still some new takes. Charlie hit the nail on the head, blogs and forums are replete with accounts of customer service ineptitude yet nothing comes of it. China Southern should be applauded for taking corrective action, and other airlines ought to follow their example. Maybe someone should post your Royal Jordanian trip report on an Arabic weibo.

  142. I don’t buy the reports about the fallout. It’s a saving face thing. Weibo is like tabloid twitter. China is so suppressive of individual expression that any legitimate criticism escalates quickly. Also, have you noticed that every video of customers going crazy on airline personnel comes from China? Somehow the airlines have become a whipping post there. You should team up with Troy http://boardingarea.com/tmtravelworldcn/ and really let them have it!

  143. I think I just had a revelation. Could this be a reason why US airline services…. suck?

    “After all, that’s partly what unions are there for. Like them or hate them, they protect you when you have a bad day.”

  144. This was a great, fair review and the fact it led to change is good. Ultimately, you can’t change their management practices, but one’s hope is that the international market will force a change on them.

  145. Lucky, you are correct to report on your perceptions that differ from the norms. Given a pretty vast range of experiences in Premium cabins, you’re honest ratings and comments are valid. In the end, you’ve probably done a lot of good in this case, even if it had a couple effects you might find distasteful (if true).

    You think there is a single China Southern Crew overlooking the First Class Lav the last few days?

  146. Ben, you always delivered a straightforward, unbiased, review of the facts. Don’t change. Let the chips fall where they may. Keep up the good work.

  147. nothing wrong on your part. this is your job and people want to hear it from the expert. it is not your fault that their way of handling issues is by way of punishmnent. You couldn’t have known. Now you know and I think you should not think twice about doing the same again. You are like a food critic. If the food is bad, the food is bad, no matter who cooks

  148. It seems really clear to me. Your constituents are us folk and we can follow or unfollow you at our pleasure. The airline has the right to hire and fire at their discretion based on performance or lack there of. If the staff is not taking their job seriously and promoting the interest of their employer for which they are paid, they ought either be trained further, demoted to crewing a DC-3 or dismissed for cause. No need for guilt Ben, blog on!

  149. I find it amazing that people could rebuke you to be more circumspect on your reviews. In the blogging world, as many in the comment thread have pointed out, your word is your only asset. One of the reasons that I read your blog, and indeed that I think many people read your blog, is because your reviews are constructed in a way that is completely transparent. Never have I seen you resort to the platitudinous statements about bad product that other bloggers slip into at times, which as far as I am concerned is one of your greatest strengths. You are always incredibly constructive when it comes to criticism, and dole out praise in heaps when it is due. I totally understand the guilt you might feel at the reaction to the review; I know how it feels to have something you’ve written be taken in the wrong way. You should cherish that feeling–it shows implicitly that you are writing with intention and moral integrity. With regard to the snark and tongue-in-cheek aspect of your reviews, I cannot state with more emphasis that it takes talent–which it is clear you have–to make writing come alive in the way that yours does because of these elements. You possess a gift not just for imparting information, but for giving people a uniquely intuitive sense about your topic (and a good chuckle along the way). No matter what you do, never ever walk away from that.

  150. I really like China Southern. I fly a lot and it is my favourite airline but as a foreigner who reads and speaks Chinese it is a much different experience than others would encounter. The reaction of China Southern management was out of proportion to the problem and in a sense proves that the problem was fundamentally one of China Southern management rather than that of its staff. In the big picture what the review has done is expose the problems with China Southern management – which indicates that the airline could well decline in the future if the management does not improve a lot. It’s unfortunate some staff have been hurt in the process.

  151. Please add the link to this page to your list of links for the entire trip review series at the top. It’s just as important as the other sections of your trip report.

  152. You have done absolutely right in everything. Chinese Airlines do have a long mile to optimize and compete in the world of top tier airlines; as well as how they run the company!

    I know this might sound very mean and unkind. BUT, this is China. (which i lived in for years till now) You do not know what is true or not. Even the crew are demoted (per Weibo posting), I doubt how true it could be.

  153. Great write up! Guilty feelings? Whatever! China Southern should be grateful for your post. You were their “secret shopper” and woke mgt up about shortcomings. I give mgt credit for answering the wake up call. How would they fare long term against such outstanding F Class competitors like Cathay, Korean Air and ANA if they didn’t improve?
    I know you have remorse about the actions supposedly taken against the cabin crew on your flight. But look at it this way: perhaps you’ll save the jobs of hundreds by helping CS be more competitive (now put down that Ben & Jerry’s and stop sulking!).

  154. When CZ say they have demoted people from that flight it may just be lip service like a NATO meeting (no action talk only) just to save face and to appear they’re taking the action they assume you would want.

    If your blogs are fair and a true account of what goes on then you shouldn’t feel guilty about blogging the truth.

  155. I think it’s only natural that you’d feel upset. After all, you’re human. As you mentioned, it’s not the fault of the flight crew for the most part. This is a management problem, not an employee problem.

    Just to make you feel better, I’ll share something similar that happened to me last year. My apartment was being rehabbed by management while I lived here. It was a huge, very intrusive project with lots of filth and noise. About two weeks after that two month long project ended, I noticed one of my heirloom candlesticks was missing. One was on the dining room table where it always was. The other was nowhere to be found. I immediately knew that one of the construction workers broke it without telling me. Candlesticks don’t just disappear in my tiny city apartment. I contacted management who said that couldn’t help. I insisted they would help and that they were ultimately responsible for the breakage. They had one final piece of construction to finish and I would not allow them inside until the missing candlestick was explained. After much back and forth, the cleaning lady from the construction crew confessed. Instead of management reimbursing me, they forced the cleaning lady to sheepishly apologize to me and give me the $200. It was awful. I sobbed for a good fifteen minutes when she showed up to pay me for the breakage. I got over it. You will too.

    You can only control you. You cannot control the actions of a poorly managed airline.

    I’m sorry you’re feeling rotten. It ain’t nothing that a little Chubby Hubby sundae cannot cure. 🙂

  156. Hi Ben,
    Was cleaning out old emails and came across this blog, probably a friend sent me. Sensitive subject for me.
    I worked in Hong Kong and China almost 20 years, involved with manufacturing on the mainland, I was in a Chinese company, so I saw the inside.

    Although you did the right thing in reporting about 1st class, (I can definetly see the stewardess’s sleeping in first class and they probably needed to be taken down a notch for awhile). You caught them off guard (Exposure), the airline management were internationally embarrassed, so they had to take tough measures, also to please the government bosses.

    In my position, I also made some exposure to help improve chinese workers rights in our own factories. That ended up with me leaving Hong Kong with a suitcase only, never to return again. The Chinese owner and family did not agree with workers rights. Although we were doing business with top American firms, some on the stock market, they continued to try to evade and hide the real facts. My lawsuit lingers on in Hong Kong courts due to the family’s corruption.

    I knew we could improve the workers situation and still maintain the high profits. But its just the way they treat people, its ingrained in their culture. And any exposure could be dangerous.

    So now you’ve learned alittle about that culture and probably similar in other third world factory countries. As well, no one in first world countries cares about labour abuses, and continue to purchase the extraordinary low priced items on high streets.

    By the way, the Chinese market has a tremendous copy of wines and spirits, so one never knows if its real or not.

    By the way 2, I also stopped wearing the Cathay pajamas HK to NY. They became too comfortable when it came time to change on arrival, and also the risk of losing something along the way. They were nice for awhile.

  157. If you truly have a concern about people’s jobs/lives being affected by your comments, you could always omit the flight date and number and still have an authentic and effective review. As internet blogging has made everyone a critic, people should consider that those in service industries (retail,restaurants,airlines,etc) spend 100% of their working time facing the general public and available for potential review. How many “critics” feel they would be always perfect if they were scrutinized in their office/cubicle 100% of their working day?

  158. It appears most comments out here seem to side with the author praising his “honesty”. I myself have traveled over 5 million miles and have had my share of good and bad experiences. That said, Lucky comes across as being mighty pretentious about his First Class flying experience. I bet he’s probably never written such a scathing blog about any US carrier. The disgraceful coffee United serves in its First class, the more often than not dirty AA lavatories or the downright arrogant cabin crew in erstwhile US Airways.

    It is common practice with Asian and the smaller Middle East carriers to allow their cabin crew to rest in unoccupied First class seats. I doubt cabin crew are trained to be janitors responsible for keeping lavatories spotless over a 12+ hour flight.

    If you did not like the food and wine, direct your ire towards management. Rather than making it look like the cabin crew’s fault.

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