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Cathay Pacific Apologizes to YouTube Temper Tantrum Star

The woman who became a YouTube sensation after a video of her throwing a temper tantrum at the Hong Kong airport has received an apology from Cathay Pacific. According to the South China Morning Post (unavailable online without subscription), the airline gave the unidentified woman, who had a monumental fit after she arrived late at the gate and Cathay employees wouldn’t let her board, an upgrade along with the apology. I can see why the airline did what it did. An employee was the one who made the video, and Cathay had nothing to lose by appearing magnanimous. Still, as a BusinessWeek colleague in New York pointed out to me, had she pulled a stunt like this in the U.S. rather than Hong Kong she would have ended up in a choke hold.

Also, did this woman really expect she had some sort of privacy protection in the middle of the Hong Kong airport? Besides, the video of her bizarre response - in which she threw herself on the ground, wailing, and tried to rush the gate - has made her an international star, with five million people watching her online. She’s the biggest thing to come out of Hong Kong since the Bus Uncle, whose tirade on a public bus was captured on a video and became a sensation in 2006. Bus Uncle became a local celebrity. Surely Airport Aunt could milk something more from this episode than an upgrade and an apology.

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