Letter to Cathay Pacific re: Canceled Flight 888

To Whom It May Concern:

I was recently on Cathay Pacific flight 888 from Vancouver to JFK, which was delayed 14 hours on October 2. I was told by a flight attendant that I should write to you regarding getting reimbursed for the extra day of parking at JFK airport for which I was charged. How do I go about receiving this reimbursement? The amount was $30 (roughly half of the $66 for the two days I was gone).

My flight to Vancouver was one of the best I’d ever had, especially in light of all that is happening with the airline industry, and I raved to several of my friends (also travel writers) about Cathay Pacific. However, when the flight was canceled Thursday night, I was surprised by how disorganized and unprepared the staff was. In fact, after the fastidious service I’d receive on the outbound trip, I was shocked by the lack of preparedness. Several passengers actually had to take charge and begin instructing the attendants, who were answering questions one-on-one rather than informing the flight as a whole. One attendant kept promising to fill out our hotel vouchers, but kept stopping to answer questions that had already been addressed several times over, further delaying the process; in fact, she had my boarding pass and voucher in her hand for a full 20 minutes before she did anything with it. In total, it took more than an hour and a half from the time the flight was finally officially canceled to when we were able to get to the hotel — and we’d already been waiting several hours.

Some other issues that I observed:

  • Buses were not waiting — as we were told they would be — to take us to our hotel. We had to wait nearly 20 minutes longer, after already waiting at the gate more than two hours.
  • When I finally received my hotel voucher, the attendant directed me to the incorrect portion of the terminal for the bus, and I had to wander around before I found where I was actually supposed to be.
  • We were not provided with meals the night our flight was canceled, and many of us had not eaten for hours, since most airport restaurants had been closed and we’d been expecting to be fed on the flight. The hotel’s restaurant had been closed for hours by the time we arrived, and I know that I myself — since I’d planned to be in Vancouver less than a day — had only $5 Canadian on me, so I couldn’t even order delivery. Some snacks or at least bottled water would have been much appreciated.
  • We were told that the airline would call us by 9AM the next morning. No such call came. Instead, I had to call the front desk to find out the status. Had I waited for Cathay Pacific’s call, I might still be in that Best Western hotel room.

I felt bad for the Cathay Pacific staff, as it seems that there were few procedures in place for something as routine as a canceled flight, and they were left to scramble to pick up the pieces at the last minute. I’m used to canceled flights — I’m a travel writer — and I’d much rather a flight be canceled than fly on an uncertain craft. However, I would have expected that an airline of Cathay Pacific’s reputation would have been better prepared for such a pedestrian mishap, and I hope the company does better by its employees the next time such an event occurs.

Sincerely,
Jenna Rose Robbins
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Read Cathay Pacific’s response.

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