A four-year-old travelling with his mother from Abu Dhabi to Mumbai a couple of weeks ago stayed empty stomach during the 3.5-hour journey because the airline, Etihad Airways, did not have baby food on board, even though the meals were pre-booked.
Five days later, his father had a similar experience while travelling on the same airline on the route. His pre-booked vegetarian meal did not reflect in the airline’s records, but luckily they had a spare packet on board.
“I had asked for baby food because regular food served on flights does not suit my son,” said H Desai, a Kalyan resident, relocated to the Gulf after a job change.
Desai said both the bookings for July 16 and July 21 were made on Jet Airways flights (9W 6519 and 9W 6620), but were merged with Etihad flights as the airlines are partners.
“I had booked the meals on Jet Airways flights, but on both the occasions the Etihad crew was clueless about it,” he said.
The lack of coordination between the two airlines might have led to the glitch, said industry experts.
An Etihad spokesperson confirmed the incident.
“Unfortunately, owing to a technical issue, the guest’s meals were not available. We are continuing to work with our partner, Jet Airways, to rectify the issue. Our airlines have a commitment to delivering a premium guest experience, so we apologies to Mr Desai and hope he continues to travel with our airline. We will remain in contact with the passengers concerned and ensure those requirements are on the next journey with us,” he said.
A Jet Airways spokesperson said, “A guest was booked for travel on aligned flight of Jet Airways, Etihad Airways flight EY 212. Regrettably due to a technical difficulty, the guest’s preferred meals were unavailable as requested. An apology has been issued to the guest by the airline and remedial action initiated, in close coordination our partner carrier, Etihad Airways, to avoid such a recurrence.”
The surge in the number of people travelling with their children has brough to light the issues related to baby food, said industry experts.
On July 17, a passenger travelling on a full-service airline from Delhi to Tokyo tweeted to external affairs minister Sushma Swaraj, blaming the airline for not carrying baby food. “My 20-month-old daughter fell sick. You did not offer baby food for 10 hours,” read the tweet.