RUSSELL Goldstein trembled with rage as it became clear he was very likely to miss his mother's funeral in Manchester. ''I can't get anyone from the management of Cathay Pacific to tell me what the delay is about and when we can leave,'' he said. He and more than 200 other passengers had been waiting since Wednesday evening for their London-bound flight to take-off. With his mother's unexpected death earlier in the day, the sudden strike by Cathay's cabin staff and the delay exacerbated an already distressing end to a holiday in Southeast Asia. Mr Goldstein had checked in, made his way through immigration and Customs and found a place in the restricted area to wait for his boarding call on Flight CX251 direct to Heathrow. But, to his astonishment and frustration, 13 hours dragged by before the plane finally took off around midday yesterday. In the meantime he and his fellow passengers had been shuttled to the Hyatt Regency Hotel, in Nathan Road, in the middle of the night, woken at dawn to be taken back to Kai Tak and then told to stand in line for several hours. Even the most patient of them began to lose their cool. ''Old women and children have been herded around like cattle,'' said passenger Ms Heather Menzies, who was heading home to Bath. She said when the cancellation of the flight was announced shortly before midnight, over-anxious Cathay staff even called in police to deal with irate passengers. ''We've been handled extremely badly and inhumanely,'' she said. Londoner Mr John Simmons said most of the passengers felt Cathay officials were so tight-lipped, that they had no alternative but to raise their voices. ''We just couldn't get hold of anyone from management. ''We had to get quite cross. I feel very sorry for the staff but we had no alternative but to shout at them,'' he said. Mr Simmons and companion Mr Walter Chamberlane said they thought the British trade office in Hongkong should have put pressure on Cathay to keep passengers informed.