It's a truth universally acknowledged that airline food it terrible. From bland meat to the soggiest vegetables you've ever eaten, airlines almost never get things right. Especially, it would seem, if you're cursed with a life threatening gluten allergy.
During nine-and-a-half hour All Nippon Airways flight from Tokyo to Sydney, Martin Pavelka from East London was given an unpleasant surprise when he discovered his gluten free breakfast consisted of one banana... and a packet of salt. Oh, and let's not forget that he was given a knife and fork to eat the whole thing with.
Pavelka is a 32-year-old coeliac sufferer, meaning he has to stay away from gluten at all costs, or risk life-threatening health issues. He told the Evening Standard: "When the stewardess came to me, she said ‘we’ve got a special meal for you’ and I got the banana. 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. On this flight, I was left literally speechless."
Pavelka had paid £1200 ($1550) for his flight, so was expecting more than a banana to help him start the day. For the record, here's what a standard economy meal looks like on a All Nippon Airways flight:
All Nippon Airways has since responded to the situation, saying: “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.”
I don't know about you, but that doesn't really sound like an apology from where I'm standing. Here's hoping All Nippon Airways have truly learned the error of their ways and will cater for all dietary requirements from now on.