'Empty' MAS flight: Shot was taken before others boarded

'Empty' MAS flight: Shot was taken before others boarded

MasterChef UK 2014 winner Catherine Chin Wan Ping Coombes has slammed an Australian news portal over the misuse of a picture of her family and her aboard a Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight.

The picture, taken with her husband and daughter, was used to depict empty seats on the flight for a news report last Friday, titled "Higher commissions, fewer passengers: The struggle to save Malaysia Airlines deepens".

In an Instagram posting, Mrs Coombes clarified that the picture had been taken before the other passengers boarded the MAS aircraft on Aug 18, reported Malaysia's The Star.

The picture by Ipoh-born Coombes shows her in business class.

It was used by several news portals including news.com.au, Mashable and several UK news websites, reported online news portal Malaysiakini.

"Woke up to this picture in the media! For anyone who has been on a plane knows, family and children get boarded first, the flight was not empty, it was in fact full," she said via her @ping_coombes account.

She also expressed her disappointment that what was a show of gratitude to the national carrier was used to depict the airline in a negative light.

"It's really sad that a thank you on a kind upgrade that I was offered is being used to attack an airline which has had such a difficult time.

"We should be offering support and compassion," she wrote.


Her original Twitter posting of the photo was captioned with the message, "Thank you @MAS, it is an amazing surprise", in reference to being upgraded to business class seats by the airline.

The Australian portal news.com.au had painted a harsh image of MAS in its report, saying that the airline was burning through its cash reserves in a struggle to survive.

It used a series of images and messages posted by Twitter and Instagram users showing empty seats and check-in lines to prove its point.

Multiple news websites have also used photographs posted on social media to illustrate articles on the MAS' alleged business downturn following the two tragedies.

One social media user commented that his flight to Kuala Lumpur from Penang was emptier than a "Richard Marx concert", in reference to the 1980s pop star.

News.com.au had reported earlier that the ailing airline, in a bid to boost sales, are offering Australian travel agents double the commissions.

This article was first published on Aug 29, 2014.
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