I come off a bit too flip in CNN.com’s coverage of the needles in Delta food incident.
Frequent flier Gary Leff, who rakes in more than 100,000 miles each year, said he’s taking a “wait and see attitude” but isn’t planning to change the way he thinks about airline food.
“I mean, this isn’t going to be the first thing ever found in airline food and certainly not the first thing found in restaurant food,” he said.
Leff is a frequent domestic flier for work and redeems his miles for international vacations, sharing his cheap travel expertise on his blog, View from the Wing.
He expects others to be bothered by this incident “for about 15 minutes,” Leff said. He referenced a number of occasions when unwanted ingredients or objects have been discovered in foods and medicines over the past few decades — incidents no one seems to worry about or even remember, he said.
“I think most people are just so happy to be served food in the sky that they’ll forget it pretty quickly,” he said.
I do think that’s basically right, though — that this isn’t a huge deal.
- It does highlight potential vulnerabilities in airline catering that ought to be addressed. There are huge issues with widespread access to ramp activities that get the lightest control, while security screening resources are poured into dealing with folks with no shoes, executing the War on Water, and having employees dressed in blue look at us naked. The story should be part of making us re-prioritize.
- Terrorists would find it even easier to poison food that gets sent out from warehouses on delivery trucks to area restaurants, contaminating an entire city’s food supply. We shouldn’t overreact to a single incident on a plane.
- Food on a plane is really no different from food in a restaurant. This is simply prepared food intended to be re-heated and served later, in a particularly constrained environment. I’ve found hair, hard plastic, and other items in my food in restaurants. And there I’m distracted by conversation, on planes and without sitting across from friends I’m more likely to pay attention to what goes in my mouth.
- But we won’t start to worry too much about airline food, we won’t start booking away from Delta, there’s no reasonable expectation of brand damage here to Delta.
This is an issue for Gate Gourmet. We should also pay more attention to what goes on away from the security checkpoint, redeploying resources. But we also shouldn’t overreact to a single incident.