SINGAPORE: China Southern Airlines has issued an apology after one of its ground staff members at Singapore’s Changi Airport was accused of insulting a passenger as a dog in three languages and feigning ignorance of the Chinese language, despite being able to speak it.
The incident has sparked widespread uproar in China, prompting the airline to launch an investigation and take immediate action.
According to Chinese media reports, the incident occurred on Tuesday (May 23) when a passenger was preparing to board China Southern Airlines flight CZ546 to Chongqing. The passenger encountered a discrepancy regarding an additional charge for changing seats during check-in and sought clarification from the airline staff.
The passenger claimed that despite hearing the staff conversing in Chinese, they insisted they did not understand the language and refused to address his query. He further alleged that a female staff member responded in Chinese, saying, “Didn’t you see that we are busy?”
However, the passenger pointed out he was the only person at the check-in counter. The passenger also alleged that another male staff member remarked, “I just don’t want to answer you.”
The passenger captured a video of the exchange on his mobile phone, claiming that the staff members insulted him as a dog in three different languages: English, Chinese, and Cantonese. However, the video does not capture the initial exchange where the ground staff members allegedly pretended not to understand Chinese.
In the video footage, the staff member is heard saying to the passenger, “If you want to be a dog, then I can treat you as a dog.” In response, the passenger retorted, “You are a dog, you are a dog,” and requested clarity on who was referred to as a dog.
The staff member implied that the person interrupting the conversation was a dog as the passenger demanded, “Say it clearly, who is the dog? Who is the dog? Say it clearly, and say it again. Say it again, who is a dog?”
The staff member claimed that the passenger was “not even capable of behaving like a human” and requested him to repeat his statement again.
In an email, the passenger expressed that the behaviour of the two staff members did not represent Changi Airport or Singapore and called for strict action against them to uphold Singapore’s reputation and prevent discrimination against customers.
China Southern Airlines’ Singapore sales department responded to the complaint through its WeChat account yesterday (May 27), stating that an investigation was launched immediately upon receiving the complaint on Tuesday.
Apologizing for the incident, China Southern Airlines clarified that the counter service staff involved was an employee of a ground agency service provider contracted by the airline. In response to the incident, the airline has instructed the agency service provider to suspend the employee and has apologised to the affected passengers.
It also pledged to strengthen and enhance its training processes to prevent such incidents from occurring in the future.
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