Over 20 passengers on an Air China flight were sick after eating expired beef pancakes on a domestic flight to Beijing. One passenger shared a photo of the out-of-date food on Chinese social network Weibo showing the expiration date of October 2, four days before her flight. An official statement by the airline claimed that incorrect packaging was to blame for the “misunderstanding,” and that any leftover or expired food is regularly discarded. The passenger claimed that flight attendants refused to acknowledge the issue or warn anyone eating the bad meals.
Food poisoning is fortunately rare on airlines, but it does happen. Earlier this summer, Delta passengers on an Istanbul-New York flight suffered possible food poisoning and were met by medics on arrival at JFK. A Miami family sued American Airlines in 2011 after a man died allegedly due to food poisoning on a flight from Barcelona.
Read our advice on dealing with food poisoning while traveling, in the air or on the ground.
It’s certainly not impossible to travel as a vegetarian, but it’s not always easy. Not only do I not eat meat, but I usually try my best to refrain from animal products of any sort. Navigating this kind of diet abroad can be tricky, but airlines could do their part to make it easier. On one of my most recent flights, my husband was literally mocked for wanting meat-free food, even if that just meant a piece of bread. All maliciousness aside, what always gets me upset about the pitiful selection of vegetarian food on flights is the pure logistics of it from an airline’s standpoint.From a purely business perspective, it seems like a no-brainer that airlines would serve vegetarian options. Everyone eats vegetables (or should). Not everyone eats meat. In fact, some of the latest estimates say that there are more than 400 million vegetarians worldwide. While both meat and vegetables can rot or become otherwise tainted, the risks of contamination are higher with meat, especially when stored for long-term use, not to mention that the meat that does have a long shelf life isn’t usually the popular choice — give me canned beans over canned Spam any day. Meat is also expensive!
I realize that passengers can usually request food that meets their personal dietary restrictions for flights in advance. What I don’t realize is why plant-based food should be a special request. It seems to me that increasing the availability of vegetarian food on flights wouldn’t just satisfy the millions of vegetarians who travel as well as many non-vegetarians who are more than happy to eat plants, but it would be good for the bottom line, too.
American Airlines recently announced a new direct route between Dallas/Fort Worth and Seoul‘s Incheon International Airports in an agreement with Japan Airlines. In addition to mentioning the “special attention [they will give] to the culture of the airline’s Korean customers” in their press release, American also briefly mentions offering “Shin Ramen Noodle Cup as a snack option to customers in all cabins.” Shin Ramen is the most popular brand of instant ramen in Korea, where the cheap noodles are so loved and a part of the culture that they are often sold in restaurants and commercials featuring the infamous PSY constantly air on television.
American Airlines is clear that this will be served only as a snack and not as a replacement for a meal on the nearly 14-hour flight. However, with the far from pleasant reputation that airline food has, adding it to the menu is more likely to receive jeers from passengers than cheers, regardless of the renown it has in its home country.
Pretend you had never been a passenger on one of today’s commercial airlines, but had the need to choose one. How would you do that? Look for airlines with a good safety record? One that is rated highly on service, a low cost leader or some other criteria that is important to you? A new, free airline rating service promises to cover all that and more.
Launched this week, AirlineRatings is poised to offer an in-depth, educated look at airlines from a number of perspectives. Developed by Australian Geoffrey Thomas and staffed by aviation editors, AirlineRatings has a comprehensive list of over 400 airlines, rated several ways.
In addition to forensic safety ratings based on the last two years of incidents, AirlineRatings sources actual passenger experience in a TripAdvisor sort of way, gathering reviews from its members. Like top-ten lists? AirlineRatings has top-ten lists for Travel Apps and Airports that are not really anything to get excited about. But they also have interesting top tens for long-haul economy-class cabins, premium economy, long-haul business-class cabins and first-class cabins, noting the best of each. Those alone are worth a click or two.
One really usable feature is AirlineRatings’ Aircraft reference, offering photos, history, manufacturing and construction details, passenger features and safety ratings. A “Future of the aircraft” feature taps the opinions of AirlineRatings’ experienced editors (AvGeeks), like this:
“To remain competitive with a new generation of jetliners, Airbus is developing the A320NEO (New Engine Option). Using latest-technology engines in the 30,000-lb.-thrust class, the NEO promises an estimated 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, with 20 per cent lower maintenance costs, significant numbers in today’s highly competitive airline market.”
One hot feature that could bring some interesting reads is their Make A Difference page, that is collecting our suggestions, recommendations and/or comments on how to improve the global airline industry.Coming up, AirlineRatings will have a source for airline food reviews, which could be interesting as time goes on. Like other crowd sourced info sites and apps, right off the starting line AirlineRatings is in need of the crowd. Good things are possible here though; we’ll check in with them again in a few months to see how this promising site is working out.
Is that the smell of delicious fried chicken? Yes, yes it is. Japan Airlines and KFC Japan have teamed up to bring fliers crisp and juicy goodness as part of the Air Series in-flight meal program on select international flights between December 1, 2012, and February 28, 2013.