LONDON – Australian national carrier Qantas has been forced to perform a rather embarrassing turnaround on its recent decision to stop serving vegetarian meals on domestic flights, following an angry customer response.
Humble pie on the menu for Qantas
At the beginning of the week, the airline announced its decision to scrap the serving of a vegetarian meal on certain domestic services. For regional flights under three and a half hours, Qantas decided to only offer passengers a single meal option, effectively removing a vegetarian option from those flights.
A reduction in food service options was initially implemented in mid-2020, during the global pandemic period. The intention at the time was to reduce service delivery pressures on operating crew.
The move to a single meal option with no vegetarian alternative this week was defended by the airline, with a spokesperson suggesting: “If the option on a particular flight is not suitable for vegetarians, we try to offer an alternative of a small sweet or savoury snack which is vegetarian.”
Customer reaction and a vegetarian backflip
It appears negative customer reaction to this week’s decision by Qantas has been swift, and the carrier has released a statement today advising that it will move to increase vegetarian meals and snacks on all domestic services.
The statement confirms that the airline will continue to carry vegetarian meals on all domestic flights under 3.5 hours.
Citing an example, the airline states that for evening meal service a vegetarian alternative such as a zucchini and corn fritter could be carried onboard in addition to a chicken and leek pie.
We will also reintroduce fresh fruit on board, which was paused during the pandemic and due to high levels of wastage.
Qantas have committed to monitoring the uptake of these options and make any further adjustments to make sure that customer preferences are best served.
Qantas management statement
Speaking on the matter of the reversal of the airlines decision to remove the vegetarian option, Qantas Executive Manager of Product and Service, Phil Capps said:
“We’ve heard the message loud and clear about having vegetarian offerings on all of our flights and so we’re making that change as a priority. We had to make a lot of alterations to our service during COVID and we’re still in the process of bringing things back and updating others.”
“When we brought back complimentary beer and wine, we extended the times of day it was served by several hours and expanded it across all routes. We’re in the middle of a broader menu refresh for our domestic network that will roll out from October, which includes new vegetarian options.”
“There’s a lot of work happening to get Qantas back to its best and that includes listening to the feedback from our customers as we keep investing in our product and service.”
It seems as though the Flying Kangaroo can’t put a paw right these days, with a litany of problems and scandals continue to dog its progress out of the pandemic era.
The latest incident this week certainly seems to have left the Australian national flag carrier with the vegetarian option of egg on its face.