How do you pass through Taiwanese immigration with 20 live Hong Kong hairy crabs? Just get them cooked at the airport…

Taiwan immigration officers say passenger could not import raw hairy crabs into island, but cooked products were fine

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 8:22pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 October, 2016, 9:56pm

A quick-witted Taiwanese man carrying 20 raw hairy crabs from Hong Kong came up with an idea when he was told by immigration officers in Taipei that raw seafood could not be imported – he proposed to cook it.

The passenger, a Cathay Pacific “diamond” member – the highest level in the Marco Polo Club – was travelling back to Taipei on Friday with the crabs when officers at Taoyuan International Airport told him he could not bring raw seafood into the island.

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But he was told it could be imported if it was cooked.

According to Taiwan’s Apple Daily newspaper, the man then sought help from a member of Cathay’s ground staff at the baggage claim area. The employee took him to the airline’s VIP lounge on the departure floor without going through proper immigration channels.

The passenger then asked restaurant staff at the VIP lounge to cook the crabs for him, but he was rejected because the kitchen was outsourced. He left for the arrival area with the Cathay employee and passed a restaurant, asking again whether they could cook the crabs for him.

Restaurant staff agreed to cook one crab because the passenger was a frequent patron, not realising the man had 20 crabs with him.

Although the restaurant staff found it unsuitable to cook all 20 crabs for the passenger, they eventually agreed to do so.This took almost an hour.

The man was then allowed to enter Taiwan with his cooked crabs.

Cathay said in a statement that it was looking into the incident and would cooperate with the local authorities.

The airline also said the incident could have been a case of an employee being too keen to help. But it said staff should take note of other concerns in dealing with passengers.

However, an experienced flight attendant said the ground staff member was probably under pressure because Cathay values passengers with “diamond” membership.

“Cathay requires us to treat every passenger with sincerity, especially ‘diamond’ members. We have to greet them and introduce ourselves on board every flight. The ground staff member might have misinterpreted what the company required of us,” said the cabin crew member who asked not to be named.

“I don’t think the staff member should be punished because the company places emphasis on the loyalty programme, which gives us unnecessary stress. The employee was just inexperienced.”