China Southern Airlines issues apology and suspends staff member who called passenger a ‘dog’
Published: May 28, 2023 01:27 PM
A China Southern Airlines plane. File photo: IC

A China Southern Airlines plane. File photo: IC

China Southern Airlines Singapore Office issued an apology on Saturday after a passenger complained over being verbally abused and called "dog" by a member of ground staff in Singapore. The company said that it has suspended the employee, who worked for a local ground agent service provider. 

The airlines vowed to improve internal management and service quality.  

The passenger surnamed Yuan told media outlet The Paper on Saturday that the dispute occurred while checking in for flight CZ546 from Singapore to Southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on Tuesday.
According to a video clip filmed by Yuan, a male service representative told Yuan in Chinese "If you treat yourself like a dog, then I will treat you like a dog." Yuan angrily replied "Say it again, who is a dog?" 

The service representative then complained that Yuan was disrupting his work and didn't know how to behave like a man. 
Yuan explained he was seeking to ask a question in Chinese after being told at check-in that he needed to pay extra money to secure an exit row seat, but that he hadn't pay this additional fee previously and wanted to know why.
Yuan told media that despite the counter service staff talking with each other in Chinese, representative told Yuan that he didn't understand Chinese and refused to answer Yuan's question. Yuan said another female member of staff told him they were very busy, a claim that Yuan disputes, saying that he was the only person at the counter. Yuan said the male staff then admitted he can understand Chinese and just didn't want to answer Yuan.
After receiving the complaint on Saturday, the airline promptly launched an investigation, and have been communicating with the passenger and expressed their apologies, according to a notice issued by China Southern Airlines' Singapore Office.
"The counter service staff member, who was an employee of a local ground agent service provider commissioned by the company, used very inappropriate language while serving the passenger. We have requested the agent service provider to revoke his qualification to serve China Southern Airlines' Singapore office," the office said
The office vowed to summarize lessons from the incident to enhance external agent service guarantee levels.
The incident aroused discussion on Chinese social media following an incident involving bad behavior by a Cathay Pacific flight crew against a mainland passenger the week before.

Cathay Pacific's flight attendants' union was blasted on Thursday for downplaying the cabin crew's discrimination against non-English-speakers, causing the airline, which has repeatedly apologized over the discrimination incident, to issue a second clarification on Thursday to draw a demarcation line with the union.

Local officials from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government consider the incident "a serious matter," urging the airline to prevent similar events from happening again.