FLIGHT FOOD PROBLEMS?
Have you been left starving on a flight due to dietary requirements?
If so, get in touch with [email protected] with your story
A coeliac mother-of-two has slammed British Airways for ‘confusing’ advice which left her without a gluten-free meal on her long-haul flight to the Dominican Republic.
The gaffe left Amber Fisher, 32, without a substantial meal on the 9-hour flight from Gatwick to Punta Canta International Airport in the east of the Dominican Republic.
Ms Fisher, from Isleworth, London, says advice on the BA website left her believing that she had to inform the airline of her intolerance as she boarded – but the actual advice was to inform BA a day before her flight.
Cabin crew scraped together a gluten-free meal of celery, chocolate buttons, crisps, popcorn, nuts, chocolate bars and a tangerine for the mother but said she was still ‘so starving’ that she almost fainted and began vomiting.
The hellish flight left the mother anxious during the rest of her holiday on the idyllic Caribbean island.
Cabin crew scraped together a gluten-free meal of celery, chocolate buttons, crisps, popcorn, nuts, chocolate bars and a tangerine for the mother but she said was still ‘starving’
British Airways said they take customers’ allergies and dietary requirements extremely seriously but, like other airlines, ask customers to let them know if they would like a special meal at least 24 hours before their flight.
Ms Fisher said: ‘The air hostess said ‘we’ll have to see what we can do’ and then brought me that.
‘She said ‘we’ve taken food out of the crew food too’ which was basically carrot sticks and celery sticks.
‘I was like ‘for nine hours you expect me to eat this?’ and she was like ‘that’s all we have’. It was a pitiful amount of food.
‘I ate the whole lot but it’s like what you’d give a kid while watching a film, it’s not an adult meal that’s going to fill you up.
‘I was on really strong antibiotics and hadn’t eaten in the morning so I was just starving and it was a nightmare.
‘I nearly passed out at the end because I hadn’t eaten and felt really weak because of the antibiotics.
‘I actually started vomiting into a bag as we were coming down – it was just water because my stomach was so empty.
The hellish flight left the mother anxious during the rest of her holiday on the idyllic Caribbean island
‘It ruined the holiday because it gave me major anxiety for days and I just felt crappy.’
Ms Fisher says she was ‘shocked’ by the tray of food that was delivered to her and said it was disappointing when compared to the full spread of a hot meal, side, snack and pudding that was offered to her non-coeliac fiancé.
She blamed the airline’s ‘confusing website’ for the mix-up, which says that passengers with allergies ‘must inform [the] cabin crew of [their] food allergy upon boarding’.
However the site also states that customers can order ‘special meals’, including a gluten-free option, which should be requested ‘at least 24 hours before [their] flight departs’.
But she says that despite the flight attendant assuring her that her dietary requirements would be logged for all future BA flights, the crew again failed to provide gluten-free food for her on the return flight ten days later.
Ms Fisher said: ‘On the BA website it states that you have to ask when you get on board and when I told the flight attendant she started arguing with me as if I was lying.
‘I showed her what it said on the website and she just said ‘oh that’s confusing isn’t it’.
‘I emailed and complained and they just said: ‘We’re very sorry about this, this isn’t our usual practice. We hope you have a better flight next time.’ – no compensation, no nothing.
‘You’re paying to be on a flight, you don’t expect someone to basically tell you that you’re lying. It’s massively put me off going with them again.
‘The airhostess said ‘don’t worry we’ll get it registered so every time you come on a BA flight you’ll automatically get it’ but when I got on the flight back they just automatically gave me normal food.
‘So they didn’t even look into what was on my chair or that I’d applied for this meal. I just gave it to my partner.’
The hairdresser was diagnosed as coeliac five years ago, in 2017, after she began to struggle to keep food down.
Commenters under Ms Fisher’s post was not impressed with her criticism of BA – saying it was her fault for not reading the advice carefully enough
Since then she has been unable to eat any wheat, gluten or barley because her ‘severe allergy’ would make her ill for days.
She says she often faces criticism and doubt from people about her condition, with many mistaking it for a dietary choice rather than an allergy.
Ms Fisher said: ‘I basically couldn’t digest any food, I was throwing up everything I was eating the next morning and losing loads of weight.
‘I can’t have anything to this day – I would have brain fog for days, sweat and shake, be physically sick and look pregnant because of bloating.
‘People think you’re making it up and when you say you have a gluten allergy you’re being a diva and you just don’t want gluten because you want to lose weight.
‘But with me that’s just not the case, I’m severely allergic to it.’
After posting about her experience online, the coeliac was bombarded with negative comments from unsympathetic people pointing out that she misinterpreted the airline’s website and saying she should’ve known to prebook her food.
One commenter said: ‘You’re an idiot then. Everyone knows to pre order food if they have a special diet* Personal responsibility is a wonderful thing.’
Another said: ‘Wow! Seriously, take your own food if you have allergies/intolerances. Get a grip of yourself no one would feel faint after eating all that food, albeit junk.
‘Take some personal responsibility, you didn’t order a meal and the crew have managed to provide you with the best options they had in a metal tub, 40,000 feet up in the air!’
Other commenters slammed the mum as ‘dramatic’ for her description of the physical impact of the lack of food during the nine hour flight and for saying the experience ruined her holiday.
One said: ‘Let’s not be dramatic, I doubt [she] actually ‘nearly passed out’ […] furthermore, I’m a bit concerned that this would ruin an entire holiday*seems a bit dramatic.’
But she has hit back, urging people to be more understanding of the difficulties faced by coeliacs.
Ms Fisher said: ‘I was annoyed by the comments I got. I think people who don’t have allergies just don’t understand.
‘I think BA handled it in a very inhumane way, expecting a grown adult to eat barely anything for nine hours on a flight.
‘It makes you feel like you don’t matter and you’re not as good as everyone else because you have an allergy.’
Other commenters tried to defend the mother-of-two and branded those who were unsympathetic as ‘heartless’.
One said: ‘No one should be treated like that, poor lady. She certainly doesn’t deserve cruel comments. Let’s all try to be kinder.’
A spokesperson for British Airways said: ‘We take all of our customers’ allergies and dietary requirements extremely seriously and our catering teams work extremely hard to ensure everyone has the meal they want, every time they travel.
‘All our customers can pre-request one of 15 special meals free of charge, including gluten-free meals, up to 24 hours before their flight.’
Have you been left starving on a flight due to dietary requirements? If so, get in touch with [email protected] with your story