Airline Passenger Says He Was Served a Single Banana as the Entire 'Vegan Meal'

“When she served the banana after takeoff I thought it was just an underwhelming appetizer."

With very few exceptions, the in-flight meals on most airlines range from "slightly better than nothing" to "slightly better than taking a bite out of the tray table." But even when air travelers go into their flights expecting disappointment, it's still possible to be let down. Just ask this business class passenger flying on Japan Airlines from Jakarta, Indonesia, to Tokyo, who says they were served a banana — one single banana — as a "vegan meal."

In a post on the FlyerTalk forum, Kris Chari wrote about his experience, asking other users if they had a similarly "underwhelming" meal service on that particular route. "Before takeoff today, my flight attendant confirmed that I ordered [a Vegetarian Vegan Meal] and that my breakfast was a banana, by which I mistakenly assumed she meant that breakfast included a banana," Chari wrote. "When she served the banana after takeoff, I thought it was just an underwhelming appetizer, but it was, in fact, the entire meal service!" 

Although Chari added that the banana was "one of the best I've had recently," he still wondered why his meal was essentially a snack. "Lunch was barely seasoned spaghetti, and my meals on other [Japan Airlines flights] were also bad, but nothing was quite as insubstantial [as] this. It was cute of the crew to serve the banana with chopsticks, though," he commented. 

In a statement to Simple Flying, a Japan Airlines spokesperson said that the current “snack/refreshment” for any passenger on that route who ordered a special meal was 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,” the statement read. 

A person slices a banana

Miljan Zivkovic / Shutterstock

For non-vegans, the snack option during that flight was seared tuna with Moroccan eggplant salad, cheese, orange salsa, and a baguette.

Chari told Insider he expected to receive the equivalent of what non-vegan passengers were served as a snack, such as a sandwich, salad, vegan cheese, or a baguette. (He did note that when he asked a member of the flight crew for something else to eat, he was given almonds and some watermelon cubes, which he said were both “great.”) 

In 2020, Japan Airlines started offering the “JAL Ethical Choice Meal Skip Option” on certain itineraries, and that option has since been rolled out to all of its flights worldwide. “This service, which helps reduce food waste while allowing passengers to rest comfortably in the cabin, has been well received by customers, especially those who board late-night flights and say they are glad to be able to take a good night’s rest,” the airline said

For every Meal Skip, the airline will also make a donation to Japan’s Table for Two charity, which will be used to fund school meal programs for students in developing countries. And really, if all you’re missing is a banana and a set of chopsticks, then skipping a meal doesn’t sound that bad. 

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