James Boyle, a British DJ and music producer who goes by the name Breakage, was flying back to the UK from Canada when he was given potato wedges on a bed of mashed potato – a meal “based solely on carbohydrates and sugar”.
Mr Boyle’s complaint wasn’t with the unappetising nature of a dish consisting entirely of potato, but with the fact that these foods are not “diabetic friendly”.
“I’m not one for being a diva, but when I have a diabetic meal request, the last thing I expect is this,” he said, adding that carbs and sugar “are the two most dangerous foods to a diabetic”.
“I’m a type 1 diabetic and my body cannot process carbohydrates and sugar,” he tweeted to the airline. “This can lead to coma, amputation, blindness and even death. You need to take this seriously.”
The carrier’s initial responses did little to appease Mr Boyle.
WestJet replied on Twitter: “We apologise, but we’re working on rebuilding the inflight meal service, and we encourage guests to bring food from home onboard if they like.”
It added: “Thus far, we’ve yet to see the food served onboard be a real point of concern for our guests, who are travelling for reasons beyond that.
“However, we will say that our Dreamliner meal service is really something if you ever get a chance to try it.”
Mr Boyle said that, while he’s used to inflight food being poor quality, “to serve someone with an auto immune disease that’s largely based around diet the exact food that is most dangerous to them, is totally inexcusable and shameful”.
After numerous complaints over social media, the airline changed tack, saying it was taking the matter “seriously”.
“We missed the mark earlier and we’d love the opportunity to look into this further,” WestJet tweeted a day later.
According to Diabetes UK, type 1 diabetes “is a serious, lifelong condition where your blood glucose level is too high because your body can’t make a hormone called insulin”.
The charity advises sufferers to be consistent with their carbohydrate intake.
“More carbohydrate than usual can cause blood glucose levels to go too high, and less than usual can cause a hypo (low blood glucose levels),” reads the website.
A WestJet spokesperson told The Independent: “This is not the level of service or onboard experience we strive to deliver and we sincerely apologise for our initial response to this guest’s serious concerns.
“We take the safety of all guests and crew seriously and are investigating the situation with our catering team and suppliers to determine what occurred and how this can be avoided in the future.
“We thank our guest for bringing this to our attention. Our team has connected with the guest and their travel agent directly to apologize and provide more detail.”
It comes after a Tui passenger was given just popcorn and crisps to eat on a 10-hour flight after the airline failed to provide a gluten-free meal.
James Howe had paid for premium seats and pre-booked special meals as he suffers from coeliac disease, meaning he can’t process gluten.
However, the 39-year-old from Watford was left to go hungry on the long-haul flight from Cancun, Mexico to Gatwick airport on 18 October.
A Tui spokesperson told The Independent: “We’re very sorry to hear of Mr Howe’s experience on his journey home from Cancun.
“We have contacted the customer directly to apologise and offer a gesture of goodwill.”
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