Business Class Passenger Served A Banana For Vegan Snack Option

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A business class passenger traveling on Japan Airlines from Jakarta, Indonesia to Narita, Japan was left surprised after being served a single banana with chopsticks as a vegan snack.

In a forum post on FlyerTalk, Kris Chari was traveling on a 7+ hour flight from Jakarta to Narita in business class. Customers in this class were entitled to two meals, a snack which was served shortly after the 6:35 a.m. departure, and a full breakfast or lunch served close to the 3:55 p.m. arrival time.

The snack menu listed seared tuna with Moroccan style eggplant salad, a cheese platter, orange salsa and a baguette. As Chari has booked the VGML (Vegetarian Vegan Meal) option, he was instead served a single banana with chopsticks. He said while the banana did taste really good, the vegan option was still “underwhelming” as he was expecting a proper equivalent of what was being served to non-vegan passengers.

“Before takeoff today my flight attendant confirmed that I ordered VGML and that my breakfast was a banana, by which I mistakenly assumed she meant that breakfast included a banana. When she served the banana after takeoff I thought it was just an underwhelming appetizer, but it was in fact the entire meal service! It was a really good banana—one of the best I’ve had recently—but it still seems more appropriate as a snack. Is catering out of CGK typically this underwhelming?”

Chari’s post eventually went viral, being picked up by a number of travel and gossip outlets. In a response to the matter, Japan Airlines (JAL) provided a statement to Simple Flying, saying:

“On flights departing from Jakarta, a snack/refreshment is served immediately after take-off in business class. Prior to arrival at Narita, a meal is served: (JL720-lunch) or (JL726-breakfast). The current snack/refreshment for all special meals on this route is a banana. We take customer satisfaction seriously and we will continue to respond to our menus in light of the growing interest and diverse needs of customers requesting special meals, including the valuable feedback from this customer.”

Photo: Alan Wilson/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Chari noted JAL’s response felt authentic, but thought a banana as a one-size fits all option was not appropriate given how much more food was being served as a snack to passengers ordering standard meal options.

“Although it’s called a “snack” service, it’s the first service after takeoff on 6:35am flight, with the second service not being served until shortly before the 3:55pm landing. The first one is clearly analogous to a breakfast and the second is lunch, so only serving a banana in business class until shortly before landing on a 7h20m flight just seems off. More saliently, others were served tuna, a moroccan eggplant salad, a cheese platter with orange salsa, and baguette. A banana isn’t the vegan equivalent of this, and while I personally enjoyed the banana and the packaged snacks in the galley, I am disappointed that a banana is their standard special meal service.”

The internet seemed split about the banana debacle. Some agreed that JAL could have offered something more substantial given that Chari was flying business class. Others were quick to say that Chari should have been grateful and not expect anything noteworthy given that he went with a vegan option.

Personally I feel that if a vegan option is specifically offered in business class, a little more fine tuning could be done to standardize the offerings between regular and vegan options given the length of time between meal service. It might have been nicer to at least serve a large fruit bowl instead of just one banana. Passengers are already paying so much more over economy, so at least do a better job on the meal options?

What do you think?

[Featured Photo: Kris Chari/FlyerTalk]

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