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KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — The public backlash over Malaysia Airlines’ (MAS) decision to stop serving alcoholic drinks on short-haul flights shows that many were unaware of the recent policy change, according to a passenger whose request for beer was denied during a recent flight to Phuket.
British pub owner Geoff Siddle who has been living in Malaysia for 20 years, said that MAS should have made public its decision over the matter.
“This latest farce over no alcohol for flights under three hours is just nonsense though. As this weekend has just proven, social media is a very fast way of getting news (good or bad) out very quickly so MAS could have got the message out to people (since January!!),” Siddle said in a Facebook posting this evening.
“What the weekend’s discussions have shown is the majority of people who replied were unaware of any change in policy, probably because the average person only gets to travel once a year (I’m sure there’ll be a lot of disappointed people starting their summer holiday dry this year),” he added.
Siddle had requested a beer on a flight to the Thai island last Saturday, but was denied the drink.
His complaint caused a stir on social media, which resulted in MAS issuing a statement admitting 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.
SIddle took issue with this response, and questioned how MAS was to determine the preference of the majority of its customers if many of them were unaware of the policy change regarding alcoholic drinks in short-haul flights.
“But more interesting is the fact Malaysia Airlines still states that the “majority” of their Malaysian clientele have spoken up saying they don’t want alcohol served on flights less than three hours (so long haul flights are ok?!?!?)” he asked.
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.