According to Apple Daily, 6 Cathay cabin crew members face disciplinary action and possible termination for taking food that was destined for the landfill at the end of a flight from Korea to HK. During a spot inspection, the crew members were found to have croissants, bottled water, milk, yogurt and lemons in their luggage.
In order to protect its in-flight property, Cathay had recently stepped up inspections of cabin crew luggage at the end of flights. While this might be appropriate for drug dealers, it seems somewhat demeaning for people tasked with saving our lives in an emergency. If they can’t be trusted with croissants, how can they be trusted with our lives?
The rationale for not allowing crew members to take waste food at the end of the flight is that if the crew were allowed to keep anything, they may not give it to the passengers and instead keep it for themselves. Believing there is shortage, management would increase provisions on flights thereby creating a vicious cycle of increasing waste. (You would imagine highly paid management would be able to devise an algorithm to provision for a flight based on the number of passengers. For example, by provisioning 1 yogurt per passenger).
Regulations in many jurisdictions dictate all food and beverages must be disposed of at the end of flights that originate in other countries. While this is not the case in HK, according to the Cathay website, for hygiene reasons they cannot donate food from incoming flights. However “When the meal carts are unloaded from aircraft arriving in HK … all sealed drink cartons and cereals” are donated to the food charity Feeding Hong Kong.
This would mean that the croissants, milk, yogurt and lemons would have been thrown away, while the bottled water would have been donated. One crew member said they had bought the water themselves, however had no receipt for it, while another said they had kept the croissants from their own meal.
According to an anonymous crew member writing on Facebook, each cabin crew is responsible for 60 economy class passengers. The cabin crew doesn’t have meal times, and often do not have time to use the bathroom not to mention eat. Taking a bottle of water to drink on the way home, and taking the food they didn’t have time to eat on the flight, they now stand accused of stealing. He/she concludes by noting that “the billions Cathay lost on financial hedging products are not considered significant company property, but croissants, lemons, milk and yogurt [that would have ended up in the landfill] are”.