Parliamentary secretary Chris Bonett was not granted preferential treatment when allocated four seats next to one another on a December Air Malta flight to Gatwick, according to a report published by the Standards Commissioner.
The investigation was sparked by a complaint filed by Arnold Cassola, who said that passengers were asked to give up the seats they had paid for in advance to make way for Bonett and his family.
Bonett had rebutted the accusation through a Facebook post, saying that he had pre-paid to have his family sitting next to one another.
The investigation carried out by the Standards Commissioner found this to be true.
Bonett had indeed paid for four adjacent seats on the flight, however, a technical glitch in the airline’s booking system meant that the seats he booked were not assigned to him when checking into the flight.
When he realised that he was not given the seats he had paid for, Bonett asked Air Malta staff to give him four seats in the same row, since he was travelling with two young children.
This was done by moving four other passengers to different seats.
This was confirmed by Air Malta chair David Curmi in his submissions to the investigation.
The Standards Commissioner noted that the version of events given by Bonett and Curmi were aligned, adding that it would have been “irresponsible” for the airline to leave the two young children in Bonett’s family seated alone throughout the flight.
The report declared Cassola's complaint unfounded and the case closed.
In a brief statement reacting to the report, Cassola said that the blame "had been shifted" to Air Malta's booking system.