Mum left to ‘starve’ and almost pass out on 9-hour BA flight with ‘pitiful’ meal

A mum claims British Airways ruined her Caribbean holiday by leaving her so “starving” on a nine-hour flight that she almost passed out.

Mum-of-two Amber Fisher, 32, said she was faced with a “pitiful” meal of only crisps, popcorn, chocolate and celery on the flight to the Dominican Republic.

The hairdresser, from Isleworth, west London, suffers from coeliac disease and said the airline’s “confusing website” led her to believe she simply had to inform the crew of her allergy upon boarding to be given a gluten-free meal.

But after boarding on Saturday, she was told by an air hostess that she was in fact supposed to book her meal in advance.

Crew scraped together some gluten-free food from the onboard snacks and their own lunches, leaving her with a “pitiful” meal of carrot and celery sticks, chocolate buttons, crisps, popcorn, nuts, chocolate bars and a tangerine.

The ‘pitiful’ meal that Amber Fisher, from Isleworth, received for a nine-hour BA flight


Kennedy News and Media)

But the handful of treats left the hairdresser so “starving” on the long haul flight to the Dominican Republic that she almost fainted and began vomiting.

The mum added the experience ruined her trip as it gave her “major anxiety” for the rest of her holiday.

Amber complained about her experience online to raise awareness of the issues faced by coeliacs but was branded a “dramatic idiot” by commenters who claimed she should have known to prebook her special meal.

British Airways said they take customers’ allergies and dietary requirements extremely seriously but, like other airlines, ask customers to let them know if they would like a special meal at least 24 hours before their flight.

Amber complained about her experience in a post online


Kennedy News and Media)

Amber said: “The air hostess said ‘we’ll have to see what we can do’ and then brought me that.

“She said ‘we’ve taken food out of the crew food too’ which was basically carrot sticks and celery sticks.

“I was like ‘for nine hours you expect me to eat this?’ and she was like ‘that’s all we have’.

“I ate the whole lot but it’s like what you’d give a kid while watching a film, it’s not an adult meal that’s going to fill you up.”

She added: “I was on really strong antibiotics and hadn’t eaten in the morning so I was just starving and it was a nightmare.

“I nearly passed out at the end because I hadn’t eaten and felt really weak because of the antibiotics.

The mum, from London, blamed the airline’s ‘confusing website’ for the mix-up


Kennedy News and Media)

“I actually started vomiting into a bag as we were coming down. It was just water because my stomach was so empty.

“It ruined the holiday because it gave me major anxiety for days and I just felt crappy.”

The mum said she was “shocked” by her in-flight meal which was all the more disappointing when compared to the full spread of a hot meal, side, snack and pudding that was offered to her non-coeliac fiance.

She blamed the airline’s “confusing website” for the mix-up, which says that passengers with allergies “must inform [the] cabin crew of [their] food allergy upon boarding”.

However, the site also states that customers can order “special meals”, including a gluten-free option, which should be requested “at least 24 hours before [their] flight departments”.

The British Airways website advises passengers to prebook special meals, including gluten free, at least 24 hours in advance


Kennedy News and Media)

Amber said that despite the flight attendant assuring her that her dietary requirements would be logged for all future BA flights, the crew again failed to provide gluten-free food for her on the return flight ten days later.

Amber said: “On the BA website it states that you have to ask when you get on board and when I told the flight attendant she started arguing with me as if I was lying.

“I showed her what it said on the website and she just said ‘oh that’s confusing isn’t it’.

“I emailed and complained and they just said ‘we’re very sorry about this, this isn’t our usual practice. We hope you have a better flight next time.’ No compensation, no nothing.

“You’re paying to be on a flight, you don’t expect someone to basically tell you that you’re lying. It’s massively put me off going with them again.

“The air hostess said ‘don’t worry we’ll get it registered so every time you come on a BA flight you’ll automatically get it’ but when I got on the flight back they just automatically gave me normal food.

“So they didn’t even look into what was on my chair or that I’d applied for this meal. I just gave it to my partner.”

Amber was diagnosed as coeliac in 2017 after she began to struggle to keep food down.

Since then she has been unable to eat any wheat, gluten or barley because her “severe allergy” would make her ill for days.

The hairdresser said she often faces criticism and doubt from people about her condition, with many mistaking it for a dietary choice rather than an allergy.

Amber said: “I basically couldn’t digest any food, I was throwing up everything I was eating the next morning and losing loads of weight.

“I can’t have anything to this day – I would have brain fog for days, sweat and shake, be physically sick and look pregnant because of bloating.

“People think you’re making it up and when you say you have a gluten allergy you’re being a diva and you just don’t want gluten because you want to lose weight.

“But with me that’s just not the case, I’m severely allergic to it.”

After posting about her experience online, Amber was bombarded with negative comments from unsympathetic people pointing out that she misinterpreted the airline’s website and saying she should’ve known to prebook her food.

One commenter said: “You’re an idiot then. Everyone knows to pre-order food if they have a special diet…Personal responsibility is a wonderful thing.”

Another said: “Wow! Seriously, take your own food if you have allergies/intolerances.

“Get a grip of yourself no one would feel faint after eating all that food, albeit junk.

“Take some personal responsibility, you didn’t order a meal and the crew have managed to provide you with the best options they had in a metal tub, 40,000 feet up in the air.”

Other commenters slammed the mum as “dramatic” for her description of the physical impact of the lack of food during the nine-hour flight and for saying the experience ruined her holiday.

One said: “Let’s not be dramatic, I doubt [she] actually ‘nearly passed out’ […] Furthermore, I’m a bit concerned that this would ruin an entire holiday…seems a bit dramatic.”

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But she has hit back, urging people to be more understanding of the difficulties faced by coeliacs.

Amber said: “I was annoyed by the comments I got. I think people who don’t have allergies just don’t understand.

“I think BA handled it in a very inhumane way, expecting a grown adult to eat barely anything for nine hours on a flight.

“It makes you feel like you don’t matter and you’re not as good as everyone else because you have an allergy.”

Other commenters tried to defend Amber and branded those who were unsympathetic as ‘heartless’.

One said: “No one should be treated like that, poor lady. She certainly doesn’t deserve cruel comments. Let’s all try to be kinder.”

A spokesperson for British Airways said: “We take all of our customers’ allergies and dietary requirements extremely seriously and our catering teams work extremely hard to ensure everyone has the meal they want, every time they travel.

“All our customers can pre-request one of 15 special meals free of charge, including gluten-free meals, up to 24 hours before their flight.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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