Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

The plane had a mechanical problem.

Which was annoying, given that this was a relatively new plane, a Boeing 787 Dreamliner

Still, these things can happen. This particular plane needed a new hydraulic pump. Yet, for reasons that don't seem entirely clear, the airline apparently didn't have the money.

We're talking about LOT, Poland's flagship carrier. 

I used to fly LOT regularly and it was, in my view, a fine airline. Even the food was remarkably edible. 

Why, then, were these passengers sitting in Beijing on November 12 and presented with a request that surely no airline has presented before?

A member of LOT's ground staff asked the passengers for cash to pay for the plane's repair.

You did, indeed, read that correctly.

As Poland's Newsweek reported, the airline first denied that the incident had taken place. 

It was awkward, then, when one of the passengers who had agreed to lend the airline some cash told the press it was true.

Only then did the airline admit it happened and place the blame on a single employee who, the airline claims, didn't consult with anyone before making his unusual request.

LOT says it understands its employee's keenness to get the flight out of Beijing. It claims, though, that ground staff are in possession of cash and a credit card for such payments.

I contacted LOT to ask for its view and will update, should I hear.

The airline did tell Newsweek

The company provides them [ground staff] with funds to solve such situations. There are no circumstances that justify asking money from passengers

It's hard to believe that a well-regarded airline would need to pay for repairs by sliding some cash to the mechanics.

Especially as the amount in question here -- 2,500 Yuan -- is a mere $360. 

A passenger called Daniel told Newsweek that passengers were appalled. Moreover, they feared that the plane wasn't safe to fly, if they really had to contribute cash for its repair.

Ultimately, after a 10-hour delay, the plane returned safely to Warsaw, where passengers were met by a member of LOT's board, refunded their money and given travel vouchers as, well what, interest?

LOT says it's investigating and that its Beijing employee is a popular and longstanding member of its team.

He's a little less popular currently, I suspect.

Published on: Nov 21, 2018
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