As a person who was once told that the vegetarian option on a flight was a chocolate-chip cookie (and it left an impression on me), I certainly relate to the plight of a man who recently found himself in a similar situation... but on a much longer flight.
Indeed, All Nippon Airways apparently served — wait for it — a single banana to a London man, Martin Pavelka, who had requested a gluten-free meal on flight from Tokyo to Sydney. While other passengers scooped up their sizeable meals of eggs, sausage, mushrooms, bread, and yogurt, he got only the tragic piece of fruit on a tray.
And it's not even because the airline somehow lost the request, which would have been more easily explained or understood.
"When the stewardess came to me, she said, ‘We’ve got a special meal for you’ and I got the banana," Pavelka told the Standard. It was marked especially for his seat number.
"This was a nine-hour flight. Although definitely gluten free, the banana did not keep me full for very long. At the price I paid, you would expect something more than that."
“As a coeliac, I always order gluten-free meal on my flights. Sometimes they are bland, sometimes they are actually much better than the ordinary meal service," he reported to the Standard. “On this flight, I was left literally speechless."
He did get a knife and fork with which to eat the banana, so at least the whole affair was... civilized.
Update: ANA provided us the following statement:
“ANA takes great pride in providing an exemplary customer experience for all passengers, and for this one passenger we did not meet his expectations. We have apologized to him personally and as a result of his experience we are reviewing our policy on gluten-free options and how they are served.
During an international flight on the Tokyo-Sydney route, there are two food services. The first service is a full meal an hour after departure and the second is a snack service two hours before arrival. To accommodate the various food and dietary needs of our passengers, there are several food options including gluten free that are selected when a passenger purchases their ticket.
On this specific instance, the passenger ordered a gluten-free meal and then a gluten-free snack. The banana he ordered was the gluten-free snack option.
We make every effort to meet our passengers needs and in this situation felt we accommodated our guest’s additional food requests inflight by providing an additional regular meal as well as an entrée from the regular menu for his snack. To imply that ANA only serves a banana for a flight of this length is incorrect.”
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