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Flight Attendants at Lufthansa Want Passengers to Pay More For Special Meals to Dissuade Them From Ordering Them

Flight Attendants at Lufthansa Want Passengers to Pay More For Special Meals to Dissuade Them From Ordering Them

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Flight attendants at the German flag carrier Lufthansa would like the airline to start charging passengers to order special dietary meals in an attempt to cut down the number that are being ordered.

As reported by the German-language aviation publication Aero Telegraph, a flight attendant representative sent a letter to the carrier complaining about the increase in special meals and the additional workload this represented.

On long-haul flights, Lufthansa offers eleven different special meals which cater for a variety of dietary, religious, vegetarian or vegan needs. Special meal categories are recognised worldwide and are set by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).

One of the most popular special meal categories is the Asian Vegetarian, which is known throughout the aviation industry as an AVML meal. Other popular special meal categories include Hindu meals or HNML meals and Kosher meals, which are known by the four-letter code KSML.

In recent years, more and more passengers have also started to order vegan meals, known as VGML meals and gluten-free meals, known as GFML meals.

Special meals are generally served before the main meal service and are hand delivered by flight attendants who have to reconcile the loaded special meals against the passenger manifest and then double-check with the passenger that they actually ordered the meal.

In some cases, passengers swap seats or claim they haven’t ordered the special meal, or ask to have the normal meal. In other cases, flight attendants can’t find the special meal that someone has ordered and then have to scramble to find food suitable for the passenger.

Flight attendants at Lufthansa say this is adding a lot of extra work because, in some cases, there are as many as 190 special meals ordered per flight – flights to India, Israel and Canada generally have the highest proportion of special meals.

And to make the situation even worse, Lufthansa doesn’t label the meal trays with the passenger’s name or seat number, so flight attendants have to go through the laborious process of doing this.

This certainly isn’t a problem unique to Lufthansa, but flight attendants at the airline want bosses to either limit the number of special meals allowed per flight or to start charging for special meals – the idea being that if someone is forced to pay for a special meal, they will be less likely to request one.

This isn’t the first time that staff representatives have raised this issue, having first complained about the delivery of special meals back in 2017. Since then, the number of special meals being ordered has only increased.

Earlier this year, Emirates revealed that it had seen a 40% year-on-year surge in passengers requesting special vegan meals onboard its flights.

View Comment (1)
  • As a flight attendant for a big European airline I agree with Lufthansa crew. In addition to the points made in this article, when a large volume of special meals are on a flight, it disadvantages the other passengers because the flow of the service is ruined and it makes it last a lot longer, so passengers are sat for a lot longer waiting for either another drink, or for the meal tray to be cleared in.

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