PUBLISHED : Friday, 21 December, 2012, 1:38pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 22 December, 2012, 9:11am

Kai-fu Lee backs Virgin stewardess fired after criticising airline food


Amy Li began her journalism career as a crime news reporter in Queens, New York, in 2004. She joined Reuters in Beijing in 2008 as a multimedia editor. Amy taught journalism at Southwestern University of Finance and Economics in Chengdu before joining SCMP in Hong Kong in 2012. She is now an online news editor for Amy can be reached at, or follow her on Twitter @AmyLiSCMP

Airlines in China have certainly attracted a lot of media attention this week. Days after news broke about a mysterious VIP smoker on a China Eastern Airlines flight, Virgin Atlantic is now in the media spotlight.

And this time they face accusations from the famous Kai-fu Lee, founder of technology incubator Innovation Works.

Li, a high-profile opinion leader on China’s micro-blogging service Sina Weibo, has 23 million followers online.

In a Weibo post today, he accused Virgin Atlantic of firing a stewardess after she complained about the airline’s food quality on her Weibo.

“I support the stewardess,” he wrote.

Li is among the first to reveal the name of the airline after Chinese media reported the controversial treatment the employee received earlier this week.

Virgin Atlantic announced in Feburary on its official Weibo a plan to spend  £100 million over three years upgrading its business class service.

Wine will be served in elegant champagne glasses and traditional English afternoon tea will be available, said the post.

The stewardess, identified as Yvonne by the media, allegedly wrote on her personal Weibo, “The portions are small and the food tastes aweful, so what’s the point of upgrading?”

This obviously angered Virgin Atlantic’s management who decided to let her go.

Yvonne then wrote a letter to Virgin, in which she argued that her post’s impact was minimal since she only had 219 followers, said a media report.

This failed to change the minds of Virgin's bosses.

Here are Kai-fu Lee’s own tips for companies who need to deal with disgruntled employees voicing complaints on social media:

1. Check out the facts. If the allegations made by the employee are true, encourage the employee to communicate directly with management first, instead of criticising the company publicly.

2. If the allegations are false, the management should ask the employee to delete the post.

3. If the employee is found to have broken laws or breached any non-disclosure agreements, the management should consider severe punishment including terminating the employee's employment contract.



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