Billions of people travel by air each year, and in recent years, low-cost airlines have heated up the competition a fair bit, spoiling travelers for choice with their attractive rates. Apart from the pricing, some other factors that many of us consider before buying a ticket include the quality of service, the time of the flight, whether there is likely to be much eye candy among the cabin crew, and of course, the quality of the in-flight food. When you’re cooped up in an aircraft for hours on end, sometimes having to endure the thundering snores of a comatose businessman, or some brat kicking your seat from behind, the quality of the in-flight food can be something that makes or breaks your flight experience.
In some rare cases, the food served not only ruins your mood, but also your tummy. Air China is reported to have recently served expired food products as part of their in-flight cuisine, causing a rumble in the tummies of about 50 passengers and rushes for the bathroom.
Air China provided food that was past its expiration date
On 6 October, Ms. Zhang and her family boarded a domestic flight operated by Air China bound for Beijing. At around 5PM, in-flight dinner was served, which included a helping of beef pie.
Seated in the first row, Ms. Zhang was one of the first to be served, and she promptly dug into her meal. Upon taking the last bite of the savory snack, she belatedly noticed the expiration date on the wrapping, dated 2 October, which had passed four days previously.
Cabin crew ignores the request to inform all passengers
Horrified by her discovery, Ms. Zhang immediately sought attention, urging a cabin crew to inform all passengers about the expired beef pies and requested that said food be withdrawn. Much to her surprise, the crew rejected her request, saying, “I can arrange for your food to be exchanged, but I can’t inform and withdraw the food from every passenger on board. The issue has to be relayed to the captain and the ground staff.”
An estimated 50 passengers fell ill
Approximately 30 minutes later, a child seated nearby started vomiting. Ms. Zhang’s husband and children too, complained of stomach aches. It wasn’t long before the symptoms hit the other passengers, about 30 on board went down with stomach aches, and 20 people had diarrhea.
The plane arrived at Beijing at around 7PM, and the crew on board promised that the “ground staff will handle the matter” to appease the outraged passengers. However, that only turned out to be a line to get the passengers off the aircraft. The ground staff appeared to be completely oblivious about the issue, and swiftly disappeared into the crowds, leaving the struggling passengers angry and in some cases exploding at both ends.
Air China claims that the “date was misprinted and the food was not expired”
When the news broke out, Air China made an official response, claiming that “upon investigation, it was discovered that the company that produced the in-flight food had mistakenly placed the frozen food that had a shelf-life of 20~30 days into the packaging for chilled food that expires in 4~5 days. It is regrettable that passengers mistook it for expired food and we deeply apologize for the misunderstanding.”
What exactly caused so many passengers to fall ill is still a mystery. Rendering the issue a packaging slip-up doesn’t change the fact that the snacks labeled with dates beyond expiry had been provided on board, nor that dozens were suddenly taken ill. The airline also claims to have “contacted the lady who reported the case, explaining the matter and sending our apologies.” They assure the media that they will “follow up with feedback from our customers and strive to improve our service.”
Perhaps they could use some brushing up on their quality control too, don’t you think?
Source: Tencent News, Fenghuang Net (Chinese)