Sunday Musings: Opt Out Of The In-Flight Meal?

JAL, the natiuonal airline of Japan, is offering travellers a chance to opt out the in-flight meal. Those who hate airline food won’t miss it. Especially on red-eye flights when they want to sleep. But there are implications…

In-Fight Meal - © JALTypical JAL Business Class in-flight meal…

JAL obviously noted that some passengers don’t enjoy their in-flight meals. And leave a lot of the food on the tray. So they recently gave ticket-holders the option of skipping the meal.

Sustainability issues

“In order to pass on a prosperous planet to the next generation, the JAL Group is committed to making every flight sustainable and transforming air travel into a value to be proud of, by aiming to achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050″

In an e-mail, JAL gently calls out flyers out for the excessive food wastage that pushing away inflight meals generates:

“We would like to introduce to you a new service ‘JAL Ethical Choice MealSkip Option’, where you can cancel your meals during reservation to enjoy your sleep throughout the flight,” it says in an e-mail. “Please use this service if you would like to take a good rest on the plane or if you would like to help us reduce food waste.”

Okay. But…

There are implications that have to be considered.

First: How long can you go without eating, before you start feeling out of sorts, or downright ill?

Second: On a long-duration flight, would you value sleep over food? Or vice-0versa?

Third: If you pay the regular price for your ticket and decline the meal, do you get an appropriate fare reduction? The answer is ‘No’.

But JAL says it will donate to charity at least some of the money it saves by not feeding you. “A certain amount […] will be used for school meal programmes for children in developing countries.”

Not an isolated initiative

Dela Airlines added a meal-skip option on its domestic business class flights late last year. The online screen where travellers chose their inflight meals a few days prior to flying offers an option to ‘skip first meal service’.

“Not planning to dine with us? Opting out of your first service meal helps reduce food waste,” the fine-print description reads.

More long-distance airline services are expected to follow suit.

My take

Obviously, JAL and Delta have decided to explore every little financial crevice in their business models for whatever savings can be found. As folks who follow the news will know, all airlines have been fighting to stay alive for several years now. Higher costs and lower ridership – especially during the COVID Crisis – gut-punched the industry. A number of airlines merged, filed for financial protection, or just went out of business.

On the basic issue: I’d rather opt out than waste the food.


Would you opt out of your in-flight meal?

Would the airline’s donation to charity make a difference in your decision?

Do you think the meal-skip option is more for the benefit of the airline or for the passengers?

Do you even like airline food?

Muse on that…

~ Maggie J.