Lawyer Sues Emirates For $130,000+ After Finding Insect In Salad

I guess frivolous lawsuits aren’t just limited to the US. A prominent lawyer was traveling from Mumbai to Casablanca with his wife for his 40th birthday in Emirates first class. On the return flight on February 27, 2018, he ordered lunch right after takeoff, and found an insect in his chicken salad. The passenger says he was so disgusted that he threw up a few times. The man claims it was a cockroach, while Emirates claims it was a beetle, according to their investigation.

The lawyer is now suing Emirates for Rs 87 lakh (~133,000USD). How did he come up with that number?

The dreadful experience has left him with a fear of flying and he later skipped a work-related engagement that required air travel, missing out on “anticipated professional fees” of Rs 30 lakh, according to Iqbal’s legal notice to Emirates. He has cited the loss of the potential fees, Rs 50 lakh for mental trauma, and Rs 7 lakh for his and wife’s first-class return tickets (Mumbai-Casablanca-Mumbai) in the compensation demand.

So he wants $46,000 in anticipated professional fees that he claims he gave up because he had to skip a work related engagement due to his fear of air travel (because apparently you can’t fly without eating?), plus he wants another ~$77,000 for the mental trauma, with the remainder being a requested refund for what he spent on the first class tickets.

Here’s how he described the situation in his complaint, per the MumbaiMirror:

According a complaint Iqbal submitted to Emirates on February 28, he, his wife, and 11 friends boarded the same flight back home — EK752 — on February 27. The couple requested the in-flight manager to serve lunch early so they could rest without any interruption during the eight-hour journey.

“I had eaten about half of my chicken (salad) and was in between bites when I saw something move in my food. I immediately switched on the light in my suite and I was shocked… to see a live cockroach in my food. I was totally repulsed and pressed the ‘call’ button and rushed to the toilet where I had multiple vomits (sic).”

The man is an Emirates Skywards Gold member, and Emirates offered him 25,000 miles as a “token of regret,” noting that this was a common seasonal beetle, and that they weren’t being negligent. Here’s how they responded to his complaint:

“The inspection of the beetle allegedly found in your salad shows it was a common seasonal beetle found in Morocco. But, finding out how it came aboard was difficult to pinpoint.”

It added: “The only explanation that is plausible, is that despite fumigation of the aircraft at Casablanca, the beetle somehow got in the aircraft whilst in Casablanca airport waiting for boarding, and was possible lurking somewhere in the galley area.”

The reply to Iqbal’s complaint also said there was no negligence on the part of the airline, “which takes great pride in the service quality and the food quality and the stringent food hygiene controls in force.”

I’d of course be disgusted if this happened on a flight I was on, but I also wouldn’t expect $130,000+ in compensation… stuff happens.

(Tip of the hat to Devarsh)

Comments

  1. I had an experience with a cockroach on the floor of Etihad 777 in business class while the plane was taxiing on departure from ORD to AUH. I killed the “insect” and gave it wrapped in a napkin to the flight attendant for disposal. I guess I should have made a big deal out of it and received some compensation… We all need to grow up…

  2. I admit I would be rather irritated if I were offered 25.000 miles for this as a gold member travelling in first class.

    But yes, obviously the lawsuit is ridiculous.

  3. I don’t think you’re getting the point of a demands letter. They will settle out of court for much much less.

  4. Disgusting yes. But he would need to prove his losses. You can’t just conjour a figure up plus there is a max liability under the Montreal convention and mental trauma — he would have to have a psychiatric evaluation
    .. whilst this can happen anywhere he comes from India !

  5. its a cockroach, I mean at the end of the day there was no harm done. The guy is being a total drama queen with the “fear of flying” stuff. Emirates offered him compensation of a very reasonable amount of miles and he should be more than happy with that. Emirates shouldn’t compensate so much money for the fact that he’s a wussy and is afraid of a harmless bug.

  6. “The dreadful experience has left him with a fear of flying….” I stopped reading there. What a BS!!!!!

  7. His claim is totally without merit, but on the other hand Emirates response was inadequate, at best. It sounds like they simply tried to brush it off as a non-event, stating it was a “common seasonal beetle found in Morocco” as if it was an every day occurrence. Simply because an insect is common does not justify it being found in a passenger’s meal. I would have expected a better, more horrified (and apologetic), if not heartfelt, response from the carrier.

    Once when flying as a non-rev for the carrier I worked for, I found a metal rivet in my omelette. When I pointed it out to the flight attendant, her response was “Thank God you’re a non-rev!” I did get a fresh omelette, though!

  8. If he only knew how many bug parts and pieces were mixed in with all the other food he eats.

  9. In 1979, when I was a child, I found a dead fly in my British Airways potato salad. This was in Economy, and we were flying out of Calcutta. The stewards said to my parents, “We assure you it’s a British fly.”

  10. He should get the compensation and be admitted to the mental hospital for few months for observation, first observation in a straight jacket.

    Insect, yuk, but this is overboard.

    Half of his round trip airfare is plenty.

  11. What a drama!

    Get a life! You can even eats any kind of insects from your plate in India.

    People are still living under the bridge and poop on on the street in Mumbai.

    But on the other hands, 25000 miles from Emirates for a Gold Member was really stingy.

    Should have been at least return ticket in JC cabin as a compensation, or a free upgrade when the Gold member buying JC or EY ticket.

  12. I found a beetle in my salad the last time I flew Frontier.

    They charged me an extra $5 for the “protein enhancement package”.

  13. Most likely he brought it onboard and planted it, looking for comp. Happens all the time from first class pax.

    The fact he is kicking up such a fuss again points towards it being planted. It’s not at all reasonable.

    My favourite is where they claim to have had $10k cash stolen from their bag whilst in the toilet.

    Once we had to have all the crew and bags searched after a long flight by the police just so we wouldn’t have it hanging over us from some asshat trying it on.

  14. ….because he had to skip a work related engagement due to his fear of air travel (because apparently you can’t fly without eating?),

    I burst out laughing when i got to the end that sentence!

  15. As this was international flight, it’s governed by Montreal Convention. Good luck collecting a single dime for mental trauma. Emirates will probably tell him to pound sand.

  16. …I recommend him to try MU F..the catering is said to be exquisite! Ben can second that, right! LOL!

  17. I was flying HKG-lax on cathay first class. A roach landed on me when I was watching tv…I gave it to the flight attendant and didn’t expect anything else. I received a email stating I receive a upgrade certificate. I emailed back saying I only fly on points. They gave me 20,000 Asia miles. I thought it was a little much for a cockroach. Cathay flight attendants are the best.

  18. Nearly 20 years ago I found an insect in my First Class salad between Madrid and Barcelona on Delta. I was the only F pax. The flight attendants were mortified and apologized. I was not offered compensation and this was back when Delta was good (before they got awful and now are getting better) and I never thought to ask for it. As another poster commented, if you don’t think you’ve eaten a lot of bug parts over the years you’re really clueless. I’m not saying I was going to eat the salad, but come on… throwing up, being afraid to fly and suing for 130K? That’s just stupid.

  19. Well since he is a lawyer I am sure he knows this is not the amount it will be settled for in the end, it is just his entry in the negotiation.

    I was flying economy as skywards silver a year ago with a broken IFE and mentioned that to their Facebook chat. I got 15k points as compensation. So if I would be in first and had a bug in my food I would feel fooled even by Emirates own standards and who knows, maybe that motivated him to sue since apparently he first tried to bring it up with Emirates the ‘normal’ way.

  20. The passenger, likely an Indian national, could be a life-long vegetarian or even a Jain. It might have affected him a lot more than we think.

    That said, one hundred-and-thirty large for the incident seems excessive. As others have mentioned, let the negotiations begin.

    Thinking about a flight I was on last July, flying Gulf Air (J class), they did not have Jack Daniel’s on board. An international incident almost ensued. I should have studied law; I’d be a rich man flying in F.

  21. I’m sorry but if this passenger is indeed Indian, then this claim is BS, that it caused him mental Trauma.
    Has anyone been to India especially in the summer? There’s cockroaches and beetles everywhere.
    Believe me, he’s experienced cockroaches on a weekly basis in his home country, throughout his childhood and adult life. I’m also very sure he’s had insects in his salad before and dealt with it fine, so this whole “vomiting incident” is complete nonsense and I hope he doesn’t get a dime! #Chancer

  22. Catering must have accidentally switched the meals with those meant for the SE Asian market, where such things would be appreciated.

  23. @Rob_Riyadh

    The article gives his name as Iqbal, so there is no doubt he is a Muslim (not that a person’s religion should make any difference).
    Btw I’m a Jain and a vegetarian and have had several instances of finding meat in my vegetarian dish (at restaurants, surprisingly never happened on a flight). And it did not “affect” me in any significant way. Everytime they just apologize and replace the food.
    I wouldn’t be surprised if this guy actually planted the bug himself.

  24. It’s reasonable that he also has a fear of being alive. I mean it would DEFINITELY turn my stomach, but life in 1st class isn’t safe from cockroaches/beetles either.

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