Old Feb 8, 2013, 4:03 PM
ChristianKohl ChristianKohl is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5
Angry Food Poisoning on Cathay Pacific, CX111, KHG-SYD, Dec 16 2012

I'm going to give a lenghty, detailed account of a very unpleasant experience: Cathay served me a meal that was off, gave me food poisoning, ruined 3,5 days of my vacation, cost me extra money in terms of hotel (early check in) charges and medication ... .

While I totally accept that mistakes can happen, I would have expected some offer of compensation and a heartfelt apology, I have received neither so far from them, just standard text blocks in their customer service jungle ... .

(Interestingly, there is another recent thread also complaining about food poisoning from CX: thread number 11128 in this forum)
  • First remark: I have a very robust stomach and digestion.
  • We (2pax) flew CX111 Premium Economy from HKG to SYD on Dec 16 2012.
  • The flight departed at 19:00 local time.
  • Our last meal before boarding the aircraft was at 14:35 local time, we both had (the same) a vegetarian sandwich at Pret-A-Manger at Three Pacific Place. We only drank bottled water.
  • On board, we both had an orange juice, water, and the nuts that were distributed after take-off.
  • After take-off, dinner was served.
  • I had pre-ordered a vegetarian (lacto-ovo) meal, which was served. My partner had a "normal" meal.
  • The meal was obviously from Economy, not premium economy: plastic instead of metal cutlery, less food than on the other trays around me etc.
  • The vegetables in the hot meal looked colourless and tasted like nothing, even after adding pepper and salt. I didn't pay any attention, just thought, well, another bland, disappointing experience, but I don't expect Gordon Ramsay, so I ate it.
  • Approximately an hour after the meal I started to feel sick/unwell. Can't really describe it: My stomach felt as if it was completely full (although portions were tiny), it was a "if I move I have to vomit" feeling. Also my circulation wasn't at its peak ... .
  • After another 30-45 minutes I got up to use the toilet because the urge to vomit was getting stronger.
  • Apparently I collapsed in the aisle, can't remember what happened, only that I was lying on the ground with fellow passengers standing over me.
  • Got up, went to toilet, but couldn't really vomit.
  • I spent the rest of the flight in this state, couldn't sleep, but felt drowsy/exhausted, felt the urge to vomit, headache from the low circulation etc.
  • Except for a vomit bag cabin staff had nothing to offer.
  • We landed in SYD in the morning and I managed to drag myself into the hotel where I spent nearly all of the day in bed in the same state. Couldn't really eat anything. Bought most of the sickness medication stuff you can get without a recipe in the pharmacy, didn't help. In the evening, I was finally able to vomit and immediately felt better.
  • I was still weak and unable to eat the next day and first developed blatulence, then diarrhea during the afternoon and night. On the morning of the third day the body seemed to have cleansed itself and all was well again, except that I of course felt weak/tired for another day, since I hadn't eaten or slept for so long.
  • So, all in all: Lost 3,5 days of my vacation. Had to spend money on early hotel check-in (extra night) and medication. Did not receive compensation. Did not receive an honest apology.

What have I learned from this?

I'm not a complainer - but from now on, I'm going to be a very unpleasant passenger and immediately criticize anything unusual/not to my liking on the plane. I kinda feel sorry for all the nice flight attendants who will have to deal with this behavior, but it looks like this is the only way to do it.
Old Feb 11, 2013, 2:33 PM
cortney cortney is offline
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 288

what makes you think you didn't get it from the sandwich before you got on the airplane. what more can the crew do for you but give you an airsick bag and maybe a water or ginger ale? They cant fly by a walmart and pick up some pepto bismal. you don't need oxygen or a first aid kit.

The vegetarian meals are different and come with different items than the normal meals. we all know airplane food isn't 5 star quality.

So the next time you fly a, different airline with a different crew is going to put up with your childish behavior because of 1 bad experience on a different airline? yeah, that's mature. I really don't know what else to say.

Were you the only one to get sick?
Old Feb 11, 2013, 5:12 PM
ChristianKohl ChristianKohl is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5

Well, I didn't get it from the sandwich because my girlfriend had the same one and she was fine. (And she's the one with the sensitive stomach.) It was really quite clear that it was the airline food. Of course I cannot prove this in court, otherwise I would do exactly that.

You're asking what the crew could do? They could inquire about my wellbeing, for example. Simply show that they value me as a customer and the business I bring. Pay attention. Be nice. That's all. No need for flying walmarts.

As for the difference in meals: I paid for a premium economy ticket and I expect premium economy service, that includes the food, since this is one of their main advertising themes (better food than eco). And yes, we all know that we can't expect Gordon Ramsay, that's why I ate it in the first place - and that was the big mistake.

And so the next time I fly, I will enquire about everything that looks "suspicious" to me, yes.

I don't know about other people since I was too "out" to ask around in the cabin. But I was the only one with VLML special meal in the (small) cabin, I know that.

Thank you very much for your condescending and aggressive tone btw, that's what makes forums so enjoyable.
Old Feb 11, 2013, 8:23 PM
cortney cortney is offline
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Sep 2009
Posts: 288

first off, im sorry if that's the way you think my tone was. I didn't mean for it to sound like that. Other than an airsick bag, there really isn't much more that can be done. I have seen posts on here about the same type of thing and the crew did ask if they were ok, and that still wasn't good enough for the poster. IMO all airplane food looks suspicious lol. Im sorry your vacation was ruined. I would assume the flight crew saw you collapse or were at least told about it? I hope so. That is one complaint I would write to the company about (crew would have to write up a crew report and you would have a copy for yourself). sorry your vacation was ruined.
Old Feb 12, 2013, 7:57 AM
ChristianKohl ChristianKohl is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5

Thank you for replying.

I must say, the "normal" meals served looked quite good, really good for airline standards. So Cathay is definitely capable of getting it right ... in theory. ;-)

Yeah, I guess what made me really angry is simply the fact that they didn't really care. One crew member watched me collapse, but they didn't check up on me or enquire about what was wrong etc. And when I complained - in a very nice, polite manner (to the email address designated on their website) - I didn't receive an apology either.

I wouldn't bother with posting this if they had simply said "we're sorry, we messed up, here's a voucher for a free drink at the airport next time" - something like that.
Old Feb 12, 2013, 9:48 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

One of the things many airlines get wrong (in fact many companies) is a total disregard for the needs of the customer. Food poisoning is a complicated business and where one person becomes sick is often impossible to trace the source. In this case, you had a special meal, which would explain why no-one else got sick.

Had they replied, we are sorry you were ill, we have passed on your feedback to our suppliers, and our cabin managment team, so that we hope the next time you fly you will have a better experience, I am sure you would have felt a bit better. However, they are probably terrified of litigation, and so avoid at all costs any admission of liability. This is often because their insurance requires it.

On the other hand, your threat at the end to be obnoxious to all airline staff because of one negative experience is childish. If you wish to punish Cathay, switch airlines, there is plenty of choice on that route. Being obnoxious to individuals who have nothing whatsoever to do with the event is pointless and lacking in class.
Old Feb 12, 2013, 10:09 AM
ChristianKohl ChristianKohl is offline
Join Date: Feb 2013
Posts: 5

You're certainly right. I don't mean to be obnoxious, maybe it's a language issue here (English not being my native language). I meant that I will enquire about everything that "smells" "suspicious" from now on and question these things.

But I must say that I fly BA most of the time and I've never had any reason to complain, except for delays, and that was always addressed promptly. The same with AA. And Korean Air. Rather to the contrary, I always found their staff (both on the ground and in the air) very friendly and helpful.

And you're right, I will certainly never fly CX again if I can avoid it - which is a pity, because I thing that the product itself is quite good, especially on the Europe-Oz/NZ route ... .
cathay pacific, food poisoning, meals

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