May 2018
A duty to help

What does it mean to go beyond the call of duty? Cathay Pacific Flight Purser Tsuyoshi Tagawa knows a thing or two about exceptional service, having recently won one of the airline's coveted "Betsy" Awards for a third time. His most recent honour recognised his selflessness in assisting a Japanese student who suffered a seizure inflight.

What happened on that flight?

We were flying from Osaka to Hong Kong and I was working in the Business Class cabin. We were told there was a medical emergency at the other end of the aircraft and I went to see what was happening as soon as I could. I could tell that the young man was having an epileptic seizure, so I monitored him carefully to ensure he didn't hurt him himself, and gave him oxygen. When I saw he was recovering, I talked to him continuously to help him remain conscious.

What happened after the aircraft landed?

There was an ambulance waiting to take the student and his friend to a local hospital. Once I'd signed off from my duty, I went straight to the hospital to see them – I knew that he and his friend must be very confused and would need assistance. I contacted the Japanese consulate and helped the student call his parents. I checked his insurance coverage, got information about the hospital fees, and told them what they needed to do to organise their flight back to Osaka.

How do you feel about winning another Betsy award?

This is not just my award: I want to share it with all the crew on that flight; because, in a situation like this, it's all about great teamwork. Many of our crew have experienced similar cases and we all make our best effort every day – it's not just me!

What drives you to help others?

I think it is the responsibility of anyone who becomes aware of a problem to do something. If you see litter on the floor, you pick it up. If you see a kid falling down in front of you, you do what you can to help. And when this incident happened on the aircraft, I felt it was my duty to help. Of course, I prefer to stay away from problems if I can!

Was there a single person or incident that reinforced your desire to help others?

What I just said about everyone having responsibility was something I heard at a political symposium: a young Japanese politician gave this answer when asked why she had been fighting the government on behalf of HIV phytotoxicity litigants, and her words stayed with me. Also, I joined a volunteer team to support victims of the 2011 earthquake in northeast Japan, and I still go there once a year. Seeing thousands of people working together to help others made a big impact on me.

Why did you become cabin crew?

Like many others, I became a flight attendant because I love to travel. I joined Cathay in August 1996, so it's been almost 22 years!

What is the biggest satisfaction you get from your job?

The greatest satisfaction for me is when crewmembers work together towards the same goal, or to solve a particular problem.

What advice do you have for young people who want to become flight attendants?

Don't become a flight attendant as your first job. Get some experience working on the ground first and then you will realise that the cabin crew job is different from others, and you will be more able to appreciate the fun, and the challenges, it brings.

Tsuyoshi (second from left, second row) taking part in a Cathay Pacific safety training exercise in 1997.
Tsuyoshi (second from left, second row) taking part in a Cathay Pacific safety training exercise in 1997.

If you didn't work as crew, what job would you like to do?

It will be difficult to go back to the "real world" after doing this job! However, I've started to think about the next stage in my life and I'd like to become a guide for foreign tourists in Japan. It gives me a lot of pleasure to introduce the beauty of Japan to others and I'm already a government-certified guide.

Is travel still important to you?

Francis Bacon said that "reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man". I would add that "travel makes a strong man". My first real travel experience was when I was 20 and I spent two weeks travelling alone in Hokkaido, in Japan. I met many nice people, saw the wonders of nature and faced difficult situations. I grew a lot on that trip, and I still get the same feeling when I travel now.
Learn more about the Niki and Betsy Awards 2018
Learn more about the Niki and Betsy Awards 2018

The Niki and Betsy Awards

The Niki and Betsy Awards are annual employee awards for Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon staff. The Niki Award is for exceptional work behind the scenes, while the Betsy Award celebrates those who have taken customer service to the next level.

The awards are named after Cathay Pacific's first two DC-3 aircraft, which founded the airline’s fleet in 1946. The real "Betsy" can be seen at the Hong Kong Science Museum.

Writing the next chapter
Writing the next chapter
A duty to help
A duty to help
Swire News May 2018 issue
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