VA catering issues at LAX on 6 Nov. "Limited" catering available for flights to Aus (i.e no hot ...

By dwrj | Nov 07, 2017, 03:02 PM
On collecting my boarding pass (at LAX this evening 6/11) I was given a letter that says:
"We wish to advise you that due to an issue with our caterer in LAX there will be limited catering available on your flight this evening.
We are providing you with a food voucher so you can purchase additional food prior to your flight.
We are truly sorry for any inconvenience. We never like to disappoint our guests however it is imperative we maintain the highest possible hygiene standards."

They have provided me with 3 x $8 vouchers (applicable to "some food outlets" in LAX, but not on board) to pick up food to take on board for the 13 hour flight. I asked what this actually meant and was told that there was no hot food to be loaded on board.

With all the other crazy & rapidly varying lounge arrangements, this is getting close to being the final straw with VA for me. I've been platinum for years having switched from Qantas and it appears they're doing their best to send me back. They may have the best Biz Class seat in the sky, but if they think that this is suitable alternative arrangement for catering, then all I can assume is that they are in a race to become a Low Cost Carrier. If you're in business you've laid out quite a bit of coin (or coin + 90k points) to be in business. Three $8 vouchers does not give you a business class meal toward the end of the flight.

Has anyone else had the same experience?
Can anyone able to shed any further light on the REAL problem here (other than VA not having an appropiate "Plan B")?

Mr Borghetti - eye on the ball please! This never happened to me in 20 years of flying with Qantas.
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By dwrj | Nov 07, 2017, 03:23 PM
Follow-up:
Just found details about a Listeria Outbreak affecting multiple airlines out of LAX - report dated 1/11/17.

Still seems strange that a better solution has still not been put in place nearly a week later.
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By jrfsp | Nov 07, 2017, 04:19 PM

Does VA use Gate Gourmet by any chance? If so AA has suspended all catering out of LAX due to a listeria outbreak in the kitchen. Could be the same issue?

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By henrus | Nov 07, 2017, 04:31 PM
The problem is not a VA issue but instead with the catering supplier "Gate Gourmet". Earlier during the week regular food safety inspections at the LAX Gate Gourmet facility found traces of Listeria in food preparation areas.

As a result, Some airlines (VA and AA) have stopped taking on food from Gate Gourmet and have instead done their own catering (like prepacked snacks/drinks) or resulted to handing out vouchers. There are still ~6 carriers using Gate Gourmet as they claim they can't see the risk but in this situation, I fully stand by VA and AA for their decission cause it could be fatal if someone did indeed contract listeria from the food.

AA has been handing out $12 vouchers (on the ground) instead so just be happy that you got $24 but there have also been reports that announcements about lack of catering have only been made after doors closing. But that being said inflight they've also been handing out $100-200 vouchers for future flights in Premium Cabins.
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By pab2025 | Nov 07, 2017, 05:58 PM
I flew from LAX on Friday and had all the meals, hot and cold. No problems.
Was flying AA biz to Asia.
Seems like AA was able to make additional arrangements to get from from other ports.
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By henrus | Nov 07, 2017, 09:45 PM
I flew from LAX on Friday and had all the meals, hot and cold. No problems.
Was flying AA biz to Asia.
Seems like AA was able to make additional arrangements to get from from other ports.
I believe that AA Asia, SYD and AKL flights are now using LSG catering (a different catering company) in Premium cabins but LSG is now at capacity and hence why VA wasn't able to also make the switch for the short period (AA will switch back to Gate Gourmet within the next week).
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By daschok | Nov 07, 2017, 11:41 PM
The aircraft is in lax all day, surely the aircraft can hop to sfo or Las Vegas in the afternoon to collect food then back again for passengers and gate gourmet pay for landing fees etc associated
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By JPeuty | Nov 08, 2017, 01:59 PM
While I applaud VA for making the right decision from a risk point of view, giving a J class pax $24 in exchange for the meal service on a 14 hour flight is absolutely derisory!
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By Mightyreds | Nov 08, 2017, 04:30 PM
I agree, I think most of us understand that these thing can happen, but you expect at least $50 to $100 and a business class passenger to get a substantual meal prior to the flight accross the pacific.
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By Boof | Nov 08, 2017, 06:37 PM
The aircraft is in lax all day, surely the aircraft can hop to sfo or Las Vegas in the afternoon to collect food then back again for passengers and gate gourmet pay for landing fees etc associated
How would that ever work from a crewing perspective? The Tech Crew can't just fly an extra few hours for a hot dinner for the pax.

VA is risk averse to this stuff. Years ago when DJ they had a massive issue with chicken sangers in the BoB menu and suffered serious PR backlash. From memory (and I may be wrong) there was concerns for a pregnant lady who consumed the sandwiches.

It's the right thing to do, and let's face it there are millions of people in the world that wouldn't get a hot meal in 14 days, so 14 hours ain't so bad.

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By ZT | Nov 09, 2017, 12:05 PM
Many years ago in Melbourne Continental DC-10-30 passengers were provided with KFC chicken as a hot dish when the prepared meals failed a test.
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By Dan22 | Nov 09, 2017, 10:40 PM
If your in VA business get your free feed in the emirates lounge and stock up on some snacks before the flight with your vouchers. Then voice your opinion to the airline - if your platinum then you will most likely get a hefty stack of points or credit even. I’ve had SQ give me a few hundred dollars in David Jones vouchers and credit from VA from voicing my opinions. Don’t take it out on the airline though for trying to protect you from disease! Anyone know if qantas use gate gourmet?
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By Ross | Nov 10, 2017, 02:01 AM
I recall a LH flight from FRA-LAX in J a couple of years ago that had NO catering loaded, zip, zilch, nada and we were not told until the aircraft was boarded.

They had water, wine and spirits (but no mixers) and that was it for 14 hrs...
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By Gazza129 | Nov 11, 2017, 02:10 PM
Well lucky OP getting vouchers!
We left on Nov 7 and weren't told until the plane was locked that "There was limited catering as VA was concerned about the health and well being of its passengers"

After arrival we discovered that Listeria had been found at one (of the 2) caterers at LAX and Amercan Airlines had chosen to pull the pin on them 6 days prior.
Does that mean that VA put its pax at risk for 6 days?

Assembling bits of the story from various crew members the decision was made at midday to fly WITHOUT FOOD on a 15 hour flight. Common sense kicked in and there was a mad scramble to organise some form of catering.

We flew J and decided not to eat in the Emirates lounge as we would eat in about an hour's time.

Boarding was an hour late with no reason given. Crew arrived late apparently after having to eat elsewhere prior to takeoff.

For dinner we were offered chicken one of 4 ways:
Green curry, Teryaki,sweet and sour or butter chicken.
There was also a vegetarian option.
It was served with a small tub of SPC 2 fruits in sugar syrup reminding us of play lunch. The bread roll was full of sugar.
The chicken looked worse than canned food served on a bed of rice..... Impossible to hide and impossible to eat.

Will there be breakfast we asked?
Oh yes! There will be cereal and fruit juice.
There was also a sort of banana bread laden with more sugar than the cereal. Also all too sweet to eat. At least there was coffee.

We survived our first world problems with crisps and nuts.

Some of the American pax lost it big time. Justifiably.

Think of those in Y who were offered a "Tuna Pot" served cold.
There were over 300 people at the gate that should have been given the option to eat (by voucher or otherwise) prior to boarding. Some were at the gate for more than 2 hours.

It was hard not to feel for the crew having to repeat the tale dozens of times because they have a lousy employer.

Flight manger took our details with a promise VA would be in touch. At the landing gate we were handed a PR letter advising us to get in touch with them....... there's talk of compensation.

It wasn't so much the lack of food that angered us but the way we were treated.
Mushrooms.
Even worse, lied to.One had hoped those days were gone :-)

So we are left wondering where we stand in terms of compensation from a legal standpoint.
What (monetary/percentage) value is there in J class dining experience? What compensation is there for being absolutely furious for most of the 15 hours?.... The trip that didn't match the brochures?
What about the lack of options to disembark and transfer to a later flight the next day?
Their behavior was mischievous and misleading.
I just hope its worth more than the 3 x $8 vouchers handed to the OP.

I may yet be off to the lawyers.

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By Stephen D | Nov 12, 2017, 03:37 AM
I came back on VA2 (LAX to Sydney) yesterday in business. The only hot food option was chicken curry, but having pre-ordered a vegetarian meal, I was completely put of luck as no vege meals were on the plane. Dinner consisted of a packet of pretzels, chocolate bar, chips and other junk food. Very disappointing as the standard of food in business is usually superb and I was very much looking to eating some quality after a week of rubbish meals in the US. I will certainly be putting in an official complaint and seeking recompense.
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By andyf | Nov 16, 2017, 10:00 PM
AA suspended use of the caterer on 1 Nov; VA by 6 Nov, and Delta by 11 or 12 Nov it seems. Reportedly Air Lingus, Fiji, Iberia, Virgin Atlantic and Level are still using the caterer.

Listeria was found in "non food contact areas" - floor drains.
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