Air Malta denies Cassola’s FOI on PS Chris Bonett’s seating pandemonium

‘The airline’s omerta' in refusing to answer such simple questions only increases suspicions that there is something amiss’ – Cassola


Air Malta has denied a Freedom of Information request from independent politician Arnold Cassola on the kerfuffle caused on an Air Malta flight to London involving Parliamentary Secretary for EU Funds Chris Bonett.

Cassola had also filed a complaint with the Office of the Commissioner for Standards in Public Life over The Shift’s report on how Air Malta passengers on a flight to London were apparently ordered out of their pre-booked seats to make way for the parliamentary secretary and his family.

because of the ensuing commotion, in which the junior minister is said to have eventually had his way, the flight ended up taking off half an hour late.

“After delaying answering for nearly two months, Air Malta is refusing to clarify what had really happened when Chris Bonett and family flew to London on holiday last December,” Cassola said earlier today.

He observed how Bonett had explained that he booked a Christmas holiday to London last summer for himself, his wife and his two children. The PS also said that when booking the Air Malta economy flights, he had made sure to reserve four seats next to each other, with his three family members filling up one aisle and himself taking up a parallel aisle seat.

But passengers on flight KM116 on 7 December said they were told to vacate the pre-booked seats they had paid for in advance. They were instead given other seats in different sections of the flight’s economy class.

When asked for the reason behind the manoeuvres, Air Malta staff told relocated passengers they had been given instructions to change the pre-booked seating arrangement to make way for “a VIP” who would be boarding the flight.

The passengers then realised their original seats had been reassigned to Bonett and his family.  Air Malta staff told the aggrieved passengers that the junior minister had insisted his family members were to all be seated in the same row.

In comments to Lovin Malta, Bonett said that when his family checked in at the airport’s ministerial lounge, they were given four boarding passes scattered throughout the plane.

When asked about the crew’s comments that passengers were to make way for a “VIP”, Bonett told the news portal that he could not answer for what Air Malta told passengers at the check-in desk as his family had checked in at the airport’s ministerial lounge.

The use of the ministerial or VIP lounge at the airport comes at a cost per passenger – footed by the government when it is used for official business, but it can also be paid for by non-official passengers who require some extra pampering.

With Air Malta now denying an FOI request, Cassola speculated today that there were only two plausible explanations: “Either Bonett is telling the truth when he says he bought and paid for his four seats in September 2022.  But that would mean that the Air Malta online reservation system is worthless and full of flaws.

“The second,” Cassola suggested, “is that Chris Bonett is lying.

“The omerta’ on the part of Air Malta in refusing to answer such simple questions only increases commuters’ suspicions that there is something amiss in this case.”

In his rejected FOI, Cassola asked the airline to confirm that the four seats next to each other were booked and paid for at the time of the booking, in summer 2022.

He also asked the airline to explain how “when Bonett and his family checked in at the airport’s ministerial lounge, they were given four scattered boarding passes”.


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6 days ago

So what Dr. Cassola stated is the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

Out of Curiosity
Out of Curiosity
5 days ago

I’ve never witnessed the likes of such an arrogant and hopeless chap like Bonett. After failing to occupy MFA’s highest post (thanks God), he turned to politics to try to gain some popularity, and loads of perks, with the ultimate aim to make hay while the sun shines. A true ignorant and a big headed, who has no clue of politics, but perhaps he is one of the Elitists part of the LP, as it has been referred to by Joseph Muscat in one of his very recent posts. MAFIA

5 days ago

This shows that AM staff are not adequately trained to handle these kind of situations.
Implying VIP only made the situation worse. More training is def needed to avoid chaos on flights.

Philip Micallef
Philip Micallef
3 days ago

The Air Malta reservation system like all major reservation systems will assign seats when all three below conditions are met : 1) when booking is made 2) when seats have been chosen 3) when costs of seats have been paid for usually by credit card.

Very improbable for any reservation system to go haywire and not assign the seats booked and paid for. This is a common complaint and in most cases it results that booking for trip made but booking for seats either not paid for or made after booking for trip and not simultaneously.

Last edited 3 days ago by Philip Micallef

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