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Japan Airlines passenger laments inflight vegan meal consisting of single banana

Banana served with chopsticks on a Japan Airlines flight
via Kris Chari

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    Japan’s flag carrier has attracted online scrutiny over an “underwhelming” vegan food option served to a recent passenger: a single banana with a pair of chopsticks. 

    Japan Airlines passenger Kris Chari, who flew business class on a trip from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Tokyo on Feb. 21, recently expressed his disappointment in the in-flight menu on the air travel forum FlyerTalk.

    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!

    Chari added that while the single banana was “really good,” it was not what he expected. He also shared that his lunch was a “barely seasoned spaghetti.” 

    “It was cute of the crew to serve the banana with chopsticks, though!” quipped Chari.

    Based on Japan Airlines’ menu, flights include a snack distributed after takeoff, followed by lunch. For non-vegan snack options, passengers may opt for seared tuna with a Moroccan-style eggplant salad, two kinds of cheese with orange salsa and a baguette. For lunch, non-vegans may choose between grilled beef tenderloin and grilled salmon.

    A spokesperson for Japan Airlines confirmed with Today that the snack/refreshment for all “special meals” on the route Chari took was indeed a banana.

    According to the representative, they 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.”

    On Japan Airlines’ website, “vegetarian vegan meal” is listed under special meal menus with images showing salad bowls, a baguette, a halal sorbet and a larger rice dish, although meals must be ordered when booking a ticket and are only offered on flights departing from Japan from Haneda or Narita.

    In an interview with Business Insider, Chari said he expected something closer to a snack, such as a sandwich, salad, vegan cheese or a baguette.

    “It’s a bit insulting to be served a single banana while others are given a far more substantial and flavorful menu,” he was quoted as saying. “It seems especially important given the growth in the number of vegans and vegetarians.”

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