Business-class passenger asks for beer, MAS says no more for short-haul flights

John Young, general manager of the emergency response division of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), shown on TV as he speaks about satellite imagery of debris possibly from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Putrajaya March 20, 2014. — Reuters pic
John Young, general manager of the emergency response division of the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA), shown on TV as he speaks about satellite imagery of debris possibly from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in Putrajaya March 20, 2014. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, April 15 — A passenger flying to and from Phuket on business class aboard Malaysia Airlines (MAS) was stunned to learn today that the full-service flag carrier has stopped serving alcoholic drinks on some flights.

British pub owner Geoff Siddle, 48, who has been living in Malaysia for 20 years, said he had requested a beer on a flight to the Thai island last Saturday, but was denied the drink.

He related that the stewardess attending to him said it was company policy not to serve alcohol on flights less than three hours’ long.

The same thing happened on his business class return flight on the national airline last Monday, where a stewardess turned down requests from all six passengers for alcoholic beverages.

“The passengers are unaware of these things,” Siddle told Malay Mail Online.

“It’s not a low-cost flight where you buy a muffin and a cup of water. It’s a fully paid flight,” he added.

The businessman, who travels once a month overseas, said he would now consider flying with other airlines in the oneworld alliance group instead.

He also aired his grouse on Twitter.

MAS said today that it stopped serving alcohol on flights under three hours’ long starting January 1 this year to accommodate the preference of most of their customers who are Malaysians.

“We are the flag carrier for a diverse and multi faith nation and in response to the preference of the majority of customers, we no longer serve alcoholic beverages for flights less than three hours beginning 1 January 2016,” MAS said in a statement to Malay Mail Online.

“As flights less than three hours primarily comprise of customers originating from Malaysia, this policy would be welcomed. On flights over three hours, we have a broader profile of customers and to cater to this profile, alcoholic beverages will continue to be served with no changes on our policy,” the national carrier added.

MAS’ new policy comes even as Malaysia’s first Shariah-compliant airline Rayani Air, which doesn’t serve alcohol on board either, was suspended for three months starting April 11.

Critics have complained about an Islamisation trend in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where increasing importance is placed on halal products.  

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