Air Malta- you can do better than that!

I don’t have any other words to start this piece with except “Shame on you Air Malta!”.

Shame on you for brushing aside countless complaints in the past about the fact that you stopped serving special meals.

Shame on you for re- introducing only one special meal that is vegetarian and then misleading customers on your website by implying that you cater to all special diets by having a vegetarian option on all flights. This can be seen in the last paragraph of the below screenshot.

Image

Shame on you for your meager reply to my complaint. https://candiesglutenfreeland.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/a-reply-from-air-malta/.

And shame on you for telling me that you were looking into the situation, only for me to realise that you changed the wording on your website in the last few days without gracing us with a reply and explanation.

This is the new wording:

At the moment, we do not offer snacks on short haul flights that last less than 1 hour and 20 minutes. We do offer a full range of special meals in Club Class if these are pre-ordered. In Economy, we do offer vegetarian options however please be advised that the crew offer these on a first come first served basis.

http://www.airmalta.com/information/services-by-air-malta/on-board-experience

We deserve a proper a reply. Do not keep tarnishing your customer service reputation by giving run of the mill answers or ignoring complaints.

Malta residents may be cut off on an island, making it highly probable that we will have to use your services in the future, but residents of other countries do have a choice.

Advertisements

A reply from Air Malta

This morning I received a reply from Air Malta regarding the fact that they are no longer offering special meals except a vegetarian option. If you would like to read my original post click here:

https://candiesglutenfreeland.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/if-you-have-any-special-dietary-requirements-then-please-ask-one-of-our-cabin-crew-for-a-vegetarian-option-excuse-me/

This is the reply I received.

Good Morning Ms Borg Cardona,

In reference to your email below, please be advised we have duly noted the contents and would like to advise as follows.

Whilst we understand yours and other passengers dietary requirement when travelling in economy class, two meal types are made available – One for any dietary needs and a second is a vegetarian option. Whilst we understand that these said meals do not cover your dietary needs, Air Malta is fully aware and does not stop anyone from bring their own food  on board.

We would like to advise that there is a second option. You can purchase a business class ticket and you will benefit from a full meal service, prior to your departure date you can contact us and order you special dietary required meal.

We thank you for taking the time to send us your email, and do hope that we have the pleasure to welcome you on board in the near future.

Kind Regards,

Customer Care Representative

Air Malta plc

Customer Care

I have  removed the customer care representative’s name from this post because I feel that she is not at fault. She is only obeying orders and represents Air Malta.

And this is my reply.

Dear Customer Care Representative,

Thank you for taking the time to reply to my email and for explaining what meal types are available.

 Unfortunately, I feel that this was a courtesy reply and my complaint was not addressed. These are the reasons why:

 1. On your website http://www.airmalta.com/information/services-by-air-malta/on-board-experience, it still states ”If you have any special dietary requirements, then please ask one of our cabin crew for a vegetarian option, which is available on all flights”. Please note that it does not state that you do not cater to special diets. It implies that if you follow a special diet a vegetarian option is available. One would understand that this vegetarian option covers all special meals- so it would have to be vegetarian and made without gluten, nuts, lactose, and added sugar and salt. This is misleading, especially when your vegetarian option is a cheese sandwich made with wheat bread.

 

2. If you do not offer special meals, why offer a vegetarian option? Is it because they cited discrimination on the Times of Malta, claiming that they would be forced to eat meat? As I stated in my blog, vegetarianism is a choice. Coeliac disease is not. You are still discriminating against people with a medical condition.

 

3. Air Malta continues to insult us by stating that we can bring our own food on board. So can everybody else. 

 

4. You can make people severely ill by offering a vegetarian meal for all special diets. You did not even comment about this fact.

 

Finally, your last statement saying that we can travel buisness class to be able to get a special meal is utterly dismissive and insensitive. So you expect us to pay an extra 200 Euro on top of our flight to have a 5 Euro meal?

Is it so difficult to make one special meal that fits all? 

 Yours truly,

 Candie Borg Cardona

What are your thoughts about this? Do you feel that Air Malta’s reply was satisfactory?

”If you have any special dietary requirements, then please ask one of our cabin crew for a vegetarian option”… Excuse me?

mealss

As I was browsing Air Malta’s website this morning, I came across this: 

air malta

It is great that our National airline, Air Malta, is one of the few airlines in Europe that still offer free in- flight meals. Some airlines have ceased to serve these in economy class to cut costs. But if Air Malta are choosing to use the fact that they are one of the few still providing in-flight meals as a marketing strategy, did they have to stop serving all special meals except vegetarian? They should know that some people follow a special diet due to a medical condition. So  why target this group of people to cut costs?

Amongst others, people who suffer from coeliac disease have been affected by this. For anybody reading this who does not know what this condition is, I will give a short summary.

It is a well-defined, serious illness where the body’s immune system attacks itself when gluten is eaten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut, and means that the body cannot properly absorb nutrients from food- resulting in many symptoms and complications if not treated. Coeliac disease affects about 1% of the population, and 5-10 % of people with type 1 diabetes. The only treatment is a lifelong strict gluten-free diet, and even a few crumbs can make a person with coeliac disease ill. Gluten is found in wheat, barley, rye and their derivatives. and is thus found hidden in many food items and food must be prepared in a gluten free environment for it to be safe for coeliacs.

So, if you think about it, there is not much that a person with coeliac disease can buy to eat from the airport once security is cleared. Keep in mind that gluten free food for coeliacs must have no traces of gluten, so it is not like one can order another meal and eat what we can from the plate. It has to be specifically prepared.

What would a a child with coeliac disease feel if she is hungry and is unable to eat like other passengers on the plane? Imagine having to fly to a European destination to catch a connecting flight, and having nothing to eat except the few snacks coeliacs carry with them in their carry on luggage because no meal is provided on board, and no gluten-free options are found at the airport. Did they even consider that a diabetic with coeliac disease would have no option when regular meals are advised for health reasons?.

But it is the last sentence  in the On Board Experience piece on Air Malta’s website that prompted me to write this:

If you have any special dietary requirements, then please ask one of our cabin crew for a vegetarian option, which is available on all flights” 

This is frankly thoughtless and insulting to anybody with coeliac disease, or for anybody who suffers from diabetes, allergies or intolerances for that matter.

It can also be dangerous. We are talking about people’s health here! Does Air Malta know that if a sandwich made with wheat bread is given to a coeliac that they can get severely ill?

For a coeliac, a gluten free diet is not a choice. It is a necessity. Although some coeliacs may choose to follow a vegetarian diet, their meals should still be totally gluten free.

Air Malta, please do not offend us by offering a vegetarian meal for any special diet.

At least, revise your meals to make one special meal that suits all- vegetarian/gluten free/ nut free/ lactose free. With a little effort, it is possible.