Considering recent events in the world, this might be newsworthy. Threats to air travel is not limited to just terrorism.
HKG to HANOI - Dec. 25, 2010.
My sister, her boyfriend, my 12 yr. old daughter and I had the displeasure of having to deal with Dragonair ground staff on Dec. 25, 2010. We arrived at the airport 3.5hrs before departure, checked in, and had a leisurely lunch at Terminal 2 before heading to our gate for boarding. We were told that we need to be bussed to our gate.
We got to the "gate" and there was a bus waiting. No signs, personnel or ropes to deter us from getting on the bus and so we walked passed the unmanned boarding desk. For those of you who have traveled extensively, you will agree that it is not uncommon for buses to take passengers from one terminal to another, so we thought nothing of it.
In any case, when we realized that the doors were not opening for us, we knew something was wrong and it was then that a Dragonair ground staff (Luis/Lewis/Louis) started yelling us at us to get away. Oops!! In any case, we did feel really stupid and backed away. Apparently, this bus takes us straight to the plane and not to another terminal.
The problem, though, was this guy Lewis. He was very angry and was practically yelling at us. It was then that my sister said, "We made a mistake OK. You don't need to be so angry."
Unfortunately, this must have triggered something in Lewis because he started to get even angrier, at which point my sister suggested that if this is his attitude, perhaps customer service is not the line of work for him. Then we let him continue to rant as we walked away.
Not long after that, they called for boarding and we queued up just like everyone else, but then things took a turn for the worse.
This guy Lewis approached us in line and continued to yell at us. My sister finally had enough and asked him for his name as she intends to file a complaint. Lewis gave us his name very quickly and demanded my sister's name in return. She refused, at which point, he asked for her boarding pass. My sister asked him why he needed the boarding pass, to which he did not have an answer, but kept repeating “Give me your boarding pass!” She refused to give him her passport or boarding pass. Lewis was totally out of control at this point and physically lunged towards my sister to grab her boarding pass and passport. When he was unsuccessful the first time, he made a second attempt. My poor daughter is starting to freak out at this point, so I had to physically step in between my sister and Lewis and told him to leave us alone. I told him that what we did was a mistake; it's over and done with. Lewis did not need to approach us again to initiate a conflict. Please just leave us alone. I repeated this twice, but Lewis did not want to listen.
I had to grab another ground crew and asked him to kindly have his colleague to leave us alone. The second guy was very nice and quietly led Lewis away. When we got to the "gate", we gave our boarding passes and passports to the attendants, but this Lewis guy wasn't even one of them!! Why was he trying to grab my sister's passport out of her hand???
I can't even make this up if I wanted to, and have suggested that Dragonair management review the security tapes. They will see Lewis approach us as we are in queue to board, try to grab my sister's passport and had to be led away after I flagged down another crew member.
BUT WAIT! It doesn't end here. As the doors of the bus are getting ready to close, guess who squeezed himself through? Lewis! He stands just inches away from us, glaring. THEN he gets on the plane with us and walks right over to where we were seated. He continues to glare at us in a very threatening manner, whips out his cell phone, looks at our seat numbers, looks at us, and commences to speak in rapid Japanese. Lewis continues to do this for several minutes until my daughter starts laughing uncontrollably because she's so scared. Finally, when everyone is seated, his colleague (the same gentleman who helped us at the gate) came on the plane and led him away again.
Now let me ask you. Why does a ground staff member need to be on the airplane if they are not part of the FA team? They have the authority to do so, but was it necessary in this case? If Lewis needed to be on the plane for whatever reason, why was he just stalking us? Why wasn’t he attending to whatever he had to attend to? Why was Lewis using a personal cell phone instead of standard two-way radio to communicate with other crew members? Why did Lewis need to speak Japanese, in Hong Kong, on Dragronair, on a flight to Hanoi Vietnam?
My wise 12 yr old asked me what that man intends to do with us and a series of things came to mind. He made it very clear that he was not going to let the issue rest and will try everything in his power to "scare" us and trust me, we were scared.
He has authority and connections!!! He can access our files because he knows where we sit and our names. He can access our addresses and personal information and tamper with it as he wishes. Lewis could be calling one of his "friends" in reservations to mess with our return flight. He could be talking to someone in baggage who can accidently "lose" our luggage or add something we did not pack. He can have flight attendants spit in our food. Lewis could be talking to other crew members to see what they can do to put us on the "no fly" list - WHO KNOWS?? The possibilities are endless.
Lewis’ message was very clear. He works at the airport, he has clearance for a lot of things, he has connections we don't know about and most importantly, he knows that we know this. He knows that he is in a position of some power and by standing right next to us and behaving in an unexplainable manner, he is showing us that he can do a multitude of things to make our holiday the worse one yet. So what's the scariest thing in air travel these days?
PS. I called Dragonair reservations right after landing, but could not speak to anyone in customer relations. I was told that the only way to get any service is to submit an online request form for a call back, which I did. I did not get a call back, so I submited another online form on Dec. 30. Someone from Dragonair called me at 7:30am Hanoi time on Dec. 31, just hours before we were to return to Hong Kong. The return flight was smooth. I can never fly with Dragonair again. Too scary. Cathy Pacific...we'll see.