Our flight - Hong Kong Express Airways UO1755, was scheduled to leave at 6:50am on July 31st. We arrived at the airport the night before to make sure we were on time for our flight. Long story short, after arriving at the gate on time the next day, we were told we were too late. We never heard our names called or a final boarding announcement on the way there. We asked the man at the gate, Horris, to see his supervisor. After about an hour, his manager, Jimmy, showed up and adamantly told us that the airline had a strict policy of closing their gate exactly 20 minutes before departure. However, at gate 525 next door, Hong Kong Express UO 273 was accepting passengers for up to almost 5 minutes before departure. We told Jimmy that we were there on time and asked him to review the security cameras. He dismissed our request and just said that we needed to buy new tickets at full price. If we had a problem, we should call the police. So we told them to call the police. We thought that the police would help us resolve the issue. We were wrong. They told us that they had no right to look at the security cameras and referred us to Hong Kong Airport Authority. HKAA said that it wasn’t their problem and told us to talk to the airlines. We spent the next ten hours being pushed from one department of the airport to the next. The response everywhere was clear and unanimous: “not our problem, here is a number, do it yourself.” The authorities talked with the airline staff at great length, while very few asked us what happened. When more officers came, they only talked to the bosses of the airlines. Worse than that, nobody – not the police or the Hong Kong Airport Authority - wanted to see the security footage to see who was telling the truth. They also complained that I was arguing in English, saying that this was Hong Kong and we should be talking in Cantonese. I don’t speak Cantonese. And even though many of them could speak English, they kept trying to use my wife as a translator. My wife, who speaks Cantonese, was caught between looking after our baby and trying to explain our situation to whoever would listen. Finally, Hong Kong Airport Authority said that our tickets were no longer valid and that we needed to leave the security area immediately, and the police said that if we refused they would arrest us for obstruction of justice. We asked them if they could at least review the security footage. They said that they would, but we wouldn’t be allowed to see it for “security reasons.” Minutes later, we were escorted out of the security area by a dozen or so officers, about half of which were armed with machine guns. Finally, the HKAA officer came back and said that the footage showed that we were 10 minutes late. I asked him whether or not he checked to see if the other passengers on the neighboring Hong Kong Express flight were late and allowed to board, and he said that he didn’t check. My wife overheard another officer in Cantonese saying that the videos on their cameras weren’t clear and that they couldn’t see anything. I suppose that if the authorities show this level of irresponsibility, corruption, and ignorance, how could we expect them to be fair?
Also, while we were running around, it was interesting to observe the demographics of the people complaining and having other problems at the airport. No Hong Kong citizens seemed to be having any problems. There were a few white foreigners that were arguing at the counters. There were more brown foreigners and mainland Chinese that were having issues with airport and airline personnel (they were speaking in Mandarin or other languages). However, there were many black foreigners that seemed to be having problems at nearly every place we went. I don’t know what country most of them were from. I don’t know what their issues were. I’m not even black. But just from looking around, there seemed to be clear discrimination against certain groups of people and preferential treatment given to others.