Airline Employee Investigated for Going Too Far to Please Diamond Elite Member

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)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. And what’s wrong with meeting the same cabin crew member on the same flight taken twice? I see nothing wrong with what the cabin crew member did.

    It’s the little things that matter. We need Tony Tyler back.

  2. Gary’s blast from the past (it is throwbackThursday, right):

    “…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”

    Huh? Maybe 10 years ago, before the days when a shiny bit of plastic (relentlessly pumped/pimped/hawked in the blogosphere) eroded the whole idea of butt-in-the-seat perks having value.

    Or maybe in today’s world, an order of magnitude = 1.000045912?

  3. Amazing customer service. In the world of entilement the employee did what ever they could to keep the person happy.

  4. Missed opportunity for a clickbait headline:
    “Cathay Pacific employee helps a customer with a case of crabs”

    I have to admit: As much as I dislike reading clickbait headlines they can be a hoot to write!

  5. @nsx lol
    I’m surprised the passenger took it that far. He broke the rules so customs should have just confiscated it.

  6. I’m quite certain a cbp officer would have confiscated them at the point of entry without even giving him the option of somehow arranging to cook them air-side.

    On a side note, obviously live seafood can be transported as cargo, but I had no idea you could check in baggage containing such creatures!

  7. So now they are going to be attacked for trying to give great customer service? Cant please everyone it seems.

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