Japan Airlines (JAL) is trialing a program in which you can skip your in-flight meal in exchange for an amenity kit. It is billed as an “ethical” way to reduce food waste. But could JAL be laying the groundwork to eliminate meal service altogether on shorter overnight flights?
JAL Meal Skip Option
The trial is being conducted on only one flight, JL34 from Bangkok (BKK) to Tokyo (HND). Passengers can opt out of meal service, which JAL notes will contribute to its effort to eliminate food waste.
As a reward for skipping meal service, JAL will provide a free amenity kit. Business class passengers will receive a longhaul business class amenity kit while economy class passengers will receive a regional business class amenity kit.
How To Skip Your Meal On JAL
The process of skipping your meal is a fairly easy one:
Step One: Click the “Request special meal” button on the Booking Details screen.
Step Two: Select ”No Meal” from the pulldown menu, then click the “Continue” button and proceed to the next screen.
Step Three: Your select will be shown in the Flight information on the Booking Details screen.
If you change your mind, you can change back (or select a special meal), as long as it is done 25 hours before departure.
Like One Mile at a Time, I like this program in theory. First, it is optional. Second, it is being offered on a flight in which most already might prefer to sleep. Third, it does truly cut down on waste. For those reasons, I am cautiously optimistic about this program.
But in the back of mind I cannot help but to be suspicious…I always am when it comes to airlines. What if JAL eventually eliminates meal service altogether, arguing that it is due to “overwhelming consumer preference” and that the logistical hurdles cannot justify handling meals for the few who still want them?
Now as far-fetched as that may sound, we routinely hear airlines attribute customer-unfriendly “enhancements” as direct responses to customer preference (like Lufthansa arguing that it is eliminating free drinks onboard due to customer demand….). JAL must still compete with ANA for customers, but can you imagine if the two combined, as some have proposed? In that case, I could see free meals going away much quicker.
In its current form, the optional JAL meal skip program does offer an “ethical” way to cut down on food waste. Whether it remains optional is something that I hope we will never have to discuss again…
Will you take advantage of the new JAL meal skip program?