22 Nov 2023

The Commissioner for Standards in Public Life concluded yesterday that Parliamentary Secretary Chris Bonett did not commit a breach of ethics when he requested adjacent seats for himself and his family on an Air Malta flight to London.

The Standards Commissioner came to this conclusion after considering allegations that Dr Bonett benefited from favourable treatment because Air Malta removed other passengers from their pre-booked seats in order to accommodate Dr Bonett and his family.

Dr Bonett informed the Commissioner that he had booked seats in the same row for himself, his wife and their two children a few days before the flight, but when they checked in at the airport they were given dispersed seats. Dr Bonett then requested adjacent seating in accordance with his booking, and this request was met. It was only after embarking on the aircraft that Dr Bonett realised that other passengers had been removed from their seats. To resolve the resulting conflict, he exchanged seats with another person and did not sit with his family during the flight.

Air Malta confirmed that Dr Bonett had booked adjacent seats before the flight, but it stated that because of a glitch in its system this booking was not registered. This was why different seats were allocated to Dr Bonett and his family when they checked in at the airport. They were then assigned adjacent seats because Dr Bonett had two young children.

The Commissioner concluded that Dr Bonett’s insistence on being given adjacent seats did not represent an attempt to obtain preferential treatment once he had booked such seats for himself and his family before the flight.

The Commissioner’s report on this case can be downloaded from here.