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Vegetarian food on KLM?

Hits 6654 | Created 2008-01-04 | Modified 2008-01-14

I recently flew to Amsterdam with KLM from Manchester airport, and despite ordering vegetarian food in advance, calling to confirm this, and then asking at check-in again, they *still* gave me a chicken salad! This is a record of my letter-writing campaign to them.

4th Jan 2008

Dear Sir/Madam,

I recently flew with KLM, on [removed], 2007 from Manchester to Montreal, via Amsterdam. [details removed]

I am a strict vegetarian. Due to your incompetence on this flight, I ate the flesh of an animal for the first time in 15 years. Needless to say that I felt sick for several hours, and it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to tell you that my entire holiday was ruined as I could think of nothing else except (what I consider to be) my spiritual crime.

Let me recount the history:

Before my flight (via a phone call) and at the check-in desk at Manchester, I asked them to confirm that my wife and I had vegetarian meals for all flights (I was careful to be specific about this). I was told that the answer was yes.

On the Amsterdam to Montreal leg of our journey the cabin crew began to bring round some special meals, which is normally the time that the vegetarian meals are brought round too. However, not having flown with KLM before, I wasn’t worried when they didn’t arrive. The main meals were then brought out and I heard one of the choices described as ‘vegetarian pasta’, so when I was asked what I would like, I (again very clearly and specifically) asked for,

‘The vegetarian meal please’

I assumed that we weren’t provided with a special meal, as one of the main options was already vegetarian. The cabin crew member smiled and gave me my meal.

The pasta was indeed vegetarian (as far as I could tell), and it was only half way through my salad when I realised that it contained chicken. This was hard to tell as all the ingredients of the salad are cut to the same shape and size and covered in a thick sauce.

When I realised I stopped eating, feeling physically sick, and called the cabin crew over. The staff member listened to my complaint, did not apologise, and simply took away my salad and gave me a replacement a few minutes later. He said that I was indeed on his vegetarian list and he didn’t know why I didn’t get my special meal. My wife wasn’t on his list.

That was it. Despite my being in obvious distress he did little more than to offer me an extra pudding portion. He said he would check that we were on the list properly on our return flights.

The return flights went better, but I still have the taste of dead chicken in my mouth.

I am also writing to the Citizen’s Advice Bureau to enquire if I have any chance of success with legal action against you. If the answer is yes, then I will pursue it as a matter of principal.

Yours faithfully,

14th Jan 2008, email from KLM:

Dear Mr X

Thank you for your email from which I regret to learn of the problems that you experienced whilst travelling with KLM. At the outset, please accept my apologies for the delay in my response.

I have read your account of events and I am sorry that you should have had such a disconcerting experience.

The records of your booking have been checked and indeed your request for a vegetarian option does appear on your reservation and I regret that you did not bring this to the attention of the cabin crew when they were issuing special meals on board your flight.

I can fully appreciate your feelings that you selected a vegetarian option from the main menu and that this contained chicken. I have forwarded a copy of your email to the in flight services department as they are responsible for ensuring that the specification supplied to our contract caterers is correct and that each meal supplied does comply with those specifications.

Once again I do hope that you accept my genuine apology and not permit this unfortunate experience to continue to reflect unfavourably upon us. I am confident that we are capable of delivering the level of service you have every reason to expect, and given the privilege of serving you in the future, we will do our best to ensure that any travel is without incident or disappointment.

Yours sincerely

Karen Hazel
Customer Care

The implication here is that I'm at fault for not hassling the staff and assuming that a 'vegetarian meal' (as I was offered) wouldn't contain meat. An apology, of sorts, but it leaves me cold.

Comment Vegetarian food on KLM? comment by David Hits | Last Modified 2012-03-20
I think they should have at the very least have refunded your money for the flights plus free tickets for your next flight.

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