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Saturday, July 13, 2024

Six months’ jail time for flight attendants who accepted payments in exchange for ticket benefits

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After being found guilty of accepting more than HK$78,000 (US$10,000) in bribes in exchange for assisting passengers to obtain discounted airline tickets reserved for airline employees, three former Cathay Pacific flight attendants were given a six-month prison sentence.

On September 7, 2023, Lau Ching-man, a former purser, entered a plea of guilty to three counts of conspiracy and was given a six-month prison term.

For one count of the same charge, the two additional defendants, former flight attendants Lee Chung-fai and Wong Oi-ting, received sentences of five months in jail each.

The District Court of Hong Kong was informed that Lau Ching-man used the staff perks provided by Cathay’s Companion Travel Scheme between 2018 and 2019 to accept bribes from a Vietnamese fashion designer in exchange for discounted airline tickets.

The airline’s Companion Travel Scheme enables its employees to request discounted tickets for a spouse, sibling, family member, or friend who will travel with them.

Employees of airlines are not permitted to be compensated for recommending others as travel companions.

The purser, Lau Ching-man, spoke with the two flight attendants to nominate two friends of the fashion designer as their designated travel companions, according to testimony provided to the court.

For their nominations, the two flight attendants each received about HK$39,000 ($5,000) and HK$27,000 ($3,500).

The fashion designer reportedly saved nearly HK$330,000 ($42,000) by using this scheme to purchase 20 Cathay Pacific tickets for just HK$19,500 ($2,488).

In total, 49 flight tickets bought at a discount cost Cathay Pacific approximately HK$860,000 ($110,000) as a result of the scheme.

The District Judge also mandated that the three defendants pay the airline approximately HK$90,000 ($12,000), or an amount equal to the bribes they received, in addition to their individual prison sentences.

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