Cathay’s service deteriorationBack to Forum
Anonymous25 Apr 2015
CX 171 HKG-PER on 24/04/2015 in Business.
I used to travel frequently on Cathay from Australia to Europe, always in business. Over the last 4 years, however, I have been flying Emirates and latterly Qatar.
Wow, what a change!
Some things are familiar (such as the décor of the First lounge at HKG), some are better (e.g. the seat), but so many things are noticeably worse.
I guess that since people like me have switched to EK/QR, it is inevitable that some cost-cutting on CX, as with other legacy carriers, would be inevitable. The single starter option – thankfully I do actually like seafood – the lack of a welcome champagne or signature cocktail – the reduction in quality of more or less everything to eat, drink or use in the lounge or on board.
What I was most surprised at, however, was the deterioration in the customer service. This seemed to be throughout – from check in to the lounge to boarding to in-flight and even after the flight.
There are too many points to make. The most telling, however, was the speed with which the cabin crew threw the meals out, literally running up and down the cabin. We wondered what the rush was, an hour into an eight hour flight. It became clear that the sole reason for this was so that the entire cabin crew could retire behind their curtain and read and eat and mess around for most of the rest of the flight – didn’t hear a peep from them until the snack before landing.
This is just plain bad training/leadership from the CSD. It doesn’t cost to provide good customer service, but if there’s a sure way to push more customers onto the Middle East carriers, this is one.
I could mention other things – the badly designed table on the seat, the poor amenities, no dining on demand option (it’s now or never, chop chop), no mattress, no pyjamas etc. etc.
A disappointment all round, really.25 Apr 2015
RichardBall6, Emirates became not only worse but – in my honest opinion – unacceptable within the last 5 or so years. Before I pulled the plug with the carrier from DXB I was a years-long Skywards Gold member clocking very regular flights in Business and occasional ones in First.
Emirates’ cabin product is good but frankly far behind the best in aviation (SQ, EY, QR,…). The ground and cabin crew performance is heavily declining and nowadays terribly inconsistent: too commonly extremely amateurish, untrained and inexperienced. I don’t accept that as a premium passenger with a full-fare ticket.
On top of that they have a totally useless and ignorant customer service management. For a year Emirates didn’t reply to my complaints at all. After 5 reminders and cancelling all my pending flights in their HKG office I received an email full of stupid excuses and computer generated nonsense… not a single word dealing with my complaints. This was the suicide of my previously heavy Emirates business.
I would anytime prefer CX before compromising service by flying EK.29 Apr 2015
Yes, I would agree. I was flying with EK for a few years but got a bit fed up with their gimmicks and bling. I found that I was being forced into buying First class tickets in order to get the privacy. This is particularly the case on the A380, where the business cabin is like flying in a barn, despite a reasonable seat.
That’s why I am now flying with Qatar, and I cannot fault their product – spacious seats, dining on demand (important when flying from Australia to Europe), pyjamas and mattress, spacious bathroom (so that you can put on said pyjamas without contortions), fantastic lounge at LHR etc.
Perhaps I had a particularly bad experience on CX, but I did feel that the service has gone down considerably than when I was flying to Europe with them a few years ago.
I should perhaps try SQ (heard many good things about them), but I am a bit of a Oneworld junkie. (The only was to fly from Perth to Europe now on QF is with EK.)
Cheers29 Apr 2015
I’ve never had a bad flight with CX. Some have been exceptional, but i’ve never had one that was poor.
The HUGE advantage to me with Cathay versus EK or especially QR is that I know exactly what I am going to get with CX – a fully flat bed in J class. I’ve been stung too many times with aircraft substitutions on QR etc to consider them for travel again. Of course, QR/EK’s newest products are exceptional. But the last time I was due to fly on one of QR’s new 787’s with 1-2-1 configured fully flat beds I ended up sliding down an angle flat ‘bed’ on a crappy A330.
Agreed, catering is not on of Cathay’s strong points. However it is still better than the likes of BA and I always know that the second meal on a seven or eight hour flight will be something substantial and not a plastic punnet of fruit or such.
I’ve always been offered either champagne or their non-alcoholic signature cocktail on boarding.
I find their lounges in Hong Kong exceptional.
But most of all I find their crew have a good balance between efficiency and ‘asian-ness’ without being robotic. Their senior crew are often exceptional. I am yet to experience an exceptional crew on the middle eastern airlines. Yes, they are accommodating (often to the point of being subservient) but they always give me the impression of not wanting to be there and any form of interaction is minimal.29 Apr 2015
Schaible – 29/04/2015 08:33 BST
Emirates became not only worse but – in my honest opinion – unacceptable within the last 5 or so years.
I note Schaible that a significant amount of your posts are lambasting EK, as someone who flies with them on a regular basis (just shy of Platinum year on year for over 8 years) I cannot agree, at all, with your assertion about them becoming worse.
In my experience of flying with them, EK started from quite a strong position with an excellent on board product, which you suggest lags “far behind” other carriers, (nonsense) and have constantly worked on areas of weakness. Their crew on-board weren’t the friendliest when I began flying with them, this has changed significantly latterly with very friendly and interactive crew, the shared lounge at my local airport in GLA was awful, they’ve opened a stunning new EK one which makes BA’s lounges look like Little Chef’s, their bus service at DXB is all but extinct now as I always seem to get connected to a terminal now they’ve invested in the airport, their food is constantly excellent both in the lounges at DXB and on board and their ICE system is better than any other airline I’ve flown with. The EK wine list sets industry standards, and the only interactions I’ve had over the years with their customer services have all resulted in a positive outcome. When I add to this their chauffeur service and how competitive the fares are, they continue to be my airline of choice on any route that they fly. Any business of their size is going to have a huge challenge in delivering excellence all of the time, and they do for sure drop the ball from time to time, but there is no way they are even 1/10th as bad as you make them out to be.
For contrast, I flew CX twice last year, and thought it was pretty ordinary, nothing at all to write home about.
The OP was complaining about CX’s falling standards of service, it is noteworthy to me that on almost any positive note about EK your post rate increases and the negativity about the airline is prevalent.
PS I have absolutely no affiliation with EK other than being a very happy customer of theirs who appreciates the strides they’ve made toward all-round customer service.29 Apr 2015
AOTG, thanks for sharing your point of view. I do respect it but myself won’t ever consider Emirates again having had a massive load of bad experiences and even worse impression from their customer service. I was a really happy EK flier back in 2009. But over the years the service visibly went down. And I am not talking about individual flights but the performance in general on my approx. 200 flights with them.
I am a person who doesn’t care about a world-class IFE or wines. I am not traveling to watch movies and drink. I do care about consistent good service! And exactly in that Emirates has disappointed me a bit too often. Beyond that I found airlines with a better cabin product at similar rates and flight connections.29 Apr 2015
I have used CX three times only and found the service and overall product very good, certainly liked the blanket in J which was big enough to cover me have some left over, very cosy.
Not had the opportunity to use EK, but one thing which prevents me is the cost, RUH-DXB is between 30 to 50% more than SV29 Apr 2015
Schaible – 29/04/2015 15:52 BST
but myself won’t ever consider Emirates again having had a massive load of bad experiences and even worse impression from their customer service.
Indeed Schaible, as you’ve mentioned in almost 40% of your posts to this forum.
Tis a free board and people are entitled to post whatever they like, but I have to say that I find it a bit curious that EK get so much of your energy – particularly on threads which aren’t particularly EK pro or EK con.
Given EK’s fiscal performance, their ever increasing fleet and routes, it would appear they are getting an awful lot more right than wrong. Albeit, not in your case.
AOTG.29 Apr 2015
Re: CX. I think crew are variable – just like any other airline. I’ve had good and mediocre crew, but the same is true of all the Gulfies and BA. SQ is probably the only one with more consistently better crew, but even they have bad days. My main issue with CX is that the penny-pinching is obvious (salt and pepper?!)
Re: EK. Sorry AOTG, but any airline that cannot promise a flat bed in J (and has absolutely no intention of doing so on its backbone 777 fleet) is a “no thanks” in my view. At least QR is gradually converting to flat bed on all its key routes. And rferguson is right – that’s definitely a benefit for CX (except on regional routes, where its new business class seat is *terrible*…)29 Apr 2015
cityprofessional – 29/04/2015 16:37 BST
At least QR is gradually converting to flat bed on all its key routes
As are EK.
I presume QR are also on your no-fly list? And Aer Lingus? And Delta? And American? And Lufthansa? And Air France? And Etihad? And Malaysian? And JAL? And Cathay? And so on and so forth.29 Apr 2015
I know we have a huge CX fan base here, so I fully expect push back to my post. From North America to HK (my CX flights are on that route the most), CX is only marginally better than AA. And that is not a compliment. Even CX First on these routes, seem to be average at best. The food in all cabins is just plain non-memorable/borderline unacceptable. I recently flew Etihad Business and First (NA to Abu Dhabi) and was blown away by the service, food, seat comfort, extras and the understated bling. QR are my favorites – they get everything right.
I fail to see which business lounge in HK for CX is awesome – none that compare to QR, Etihad hub lounges at all. Even CX first lounge in HK is just passable – QR business far surpasses it.
CX is always priced much higher than QR/Etihad in business and first from NA -and for that one expects a lot more than the drab dull business and marginally better first product. Either up your game or lower your fares – cant have it both ways.29 Apr 2015
ExecPlatAA – i’ve never travelled CX on a transpacific route but i’ve heard many negative comments about those flights, particularly related to the cabin crew and some of the meal services on the flights that depart in the dead of morning. I believe cabin crew on some HKG – US routes are US based?29 Apr 2015
I can’t say I was over impressed with The Wing at HKG, may be I hit it on a bad day. I will give it another try when transiting HKG in June.
The decor is fine but the service was appallingly slow, I ordered spring rolls as a snack and a cola, the cola took 10 minutes to arrive and 20 minutes for the spring rolls which actually ended up as samosas!29 Apr 2015
You are right rferguson – several are indeed US based, albeit of Asian origin and are fluent Mandarin/Cantonese speakers. The crew does make such a big difference – same for the check in staff – LA and SFO based staff are at best curt. I find the HKG CX experience to be much more polished.
That said, the hard product (esp the meals and to a lesser extent the seat/cabin luxury) needs more TLC as well, especially considering the fares in premium cabins on this sector. Perhaps unfair to compare them constantly to the ME3 (as they are trying to grab market share from the incumbents) but how much more could a set of pajamas, mood lighting, a decent meal, clean seats etc cost?29 Apr 2015