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Missing ingredient list on Cathay menu
Dear OMAAT team,
I wanted to point you to a situation I recently experienced on a Cathay Pacific flight from HKG to LAX in business class.
My girlfriend and I had originally booked flights with AA, but had to be rebooked on the last minute to CX due to flight delays… My girlfriend is severely allergic to peanuts, so we had made sure to order a special meal with AA before our flight. Due to the rebooking, though, the special meal request did not carry over. We made it to the CX flight on the last minute so we were also not able to buy an alternative meal. So my girlfriend had to choose a meal from the menu during the flight with CX. This would have been fine if CX had an ingredient list so we can double check whether she’d be fine with having any of the food options. But to our surprise, CX flight attendants told us that they do not have an ingredient list for any of their food offerings, and that they cannot guarantee that any of the meals is free of peanuts. They could not even tell us whether the catering company they supply from uses peanut oil or other oils… They were encouraging my girlfriend not to eat any of the items of the menu, and instead were offering to prepare rice with olive oil, or a salad without dressing (because the dressing may have peanut oil, they didn’t feel safe with offering it). This was, of course, extremely disappointing.
While we certainly don’t expect airlines to cater to my girlfriend’s allergies, we do expect that an airline that offers an extensive food menu can tell us what ingredients are in the food they offer. All we were told they knew is what is in the printed menu that was given to passengers. That only said that the options were steak with potatoes, chicken with some sauce, and noodles with truffles… In the end, my girlfriend ended up eating the steak on a special bowl of rice that the flight attendants prepared for her because she insisted that she would risk it. Regardless, though, we would expect that an ingredient list is available upon request.
My goal with this post is to raise awareness about subtle issues that have a significant impact on the lives of people suffering with allergies. The key to dealing with allergies is making informed decisions and being prepared. When this is not possible, people with allergies are exposed to large risks. All CX needed to be able to do is provide us with an ingredient list so we could have made a conscious choice. Nothing happened in the end, but my girlfriend endured quite a lot of distress in the process, thinking about not being able to eat anything but rice for 12 hours.
[USER=4]@Lucky[/USER]: If you feel that this is something worth raising awareness for, please feel free to us my story on your blog. I’d be happy to offer more details.