The basics of loyalty programs are recognize and reward. Earn and burn are the reward part, but the recognition you get — the ‘VIP status’ — for focusing on the goal of staying with a single chain 25 times or 50 nights, or flying an airline 50,000 or 100,000 miles a year gets you treatment orders of magnitude better than the average person walking through the doors or onto the plane.
But there are limits that the marketing sometimes makes it easy to forget. And sometimes employees take elite status too far, also.
A Cathay Pacific Marco Polo Club Diamond member brought 20 live crabs on his flight from Hong Kong to Taipei. At customs in Taiwan he was told he couldn’t enter the country with raw seafood. But what if he had it cooked before trying to enter?
- This Diamond elite sought assistance from Cathay Pacific ground staff at baggage claim.
- An employee brought him to their year-old business class lounge.
- The (outsourced) kitchen staff there refused to cook the crabs.
Noodle Bar, Cathay Pacific Lounge Taipei, Credit: Cathay Pacific
- The Cathay staff member then took the man to an airport restaurant. The man was a regular there so they agreed to cook one crab, misunderstanding the request. Eventually they agreed to cook the crabs.
The Quest to Cook Crabs took an hour. The man was then permitted to enter Taiwan with his cooked crabs.
However the Cathay Pacific staff member is being investigated for circumventing immigration and security procedures in bringing the passenger from baggage claim to departures. Because he was a Diamond Guest.
The airline also said the incident could have been a case of an employee being too keen to help. But it said staff should take note of other concerns in dealing with passengers.
However, an experienced flight attendant said the ground staff member was probably under pressure because Cathay values passengers with “diamond” membership.
“Cathay requires us to treat every passenger with sincerity, especially ‘diamond’ members. We have to greet them and introduce ourselves on board every flight. The ground staff member might have misinterpreted what the company required of us,” said the cabin crew member who asked not to be named.
Diamond Guests can be demanding of course.
(HT: Point Me to the Plane)