Air India Fined For Serving Vegetarian Passengers Meat Based Meals

Air India has been fined 40,000 rupees ($ 563) for serving food containing meat to a vegetarian couple. The state-run airline has been given 30 days to pay the fine after having received the order. Failure to pay on time will result in a 12% penalty.

Vegetarian couple served meat. Photo: Air India

Vegetarian Mr. Chandra Mohan Pathak said that he had booked return tickets for him and his wife to fly to Chicago on June 17, 2016, and then return to India on November 14th, 2016.

In the passengers’ complaint, he said that he had given Air India strict instructions to only serve him and his wife vegetarian food.

On the flight out to America, the meal was as he had asked, but on the return trip back to India they were served a meal that contained meat.

After discovering their meals contained meat, Mr. Pathak asked the flight crew to provide him with the airline’s complaints book so that he could make an entry about being served non-vegetarian food.

The passenger had to wait nearly three years for his complaint to be heard

According to website Live and Let’s Fly, there was no packaging or writing to differentiate a vegetarian meal from a non-vegetarian meal on the food he and his wife were served.


Air India food with vegetarian meal sticker. Photo: Air India

When airline staff refused to provide him with the airline’s complaints book, he went and filed a grievance with a local government consumer protection agency.

This year, when his complain finally got settled after a nearly three-year wait, the District Consumer Disputes Forum awarded him Rs 10,000 ($140.76) and another Rs 7,000 ($98.53) towards his legal costs.

Air India appealed the ruling to a higher court

Air India did not consider themselves to be at fault, however, and tried to appeal the ruling with the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission.

In their decision, the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission once more found Air India to be at fault, quadrupling the fine to Rs 40,000.

new air india livery
Air India tried to appeal the ruling. Photo: Air India

In their statement regarding the matter published in Business Today, the Star Alliance member was told that their cabin crew should have checked the food more thoroughly before serving it to the couple.

“Serving a non-vegetarian food to the vegetarian passenger was not only a deficiency in services, but also a sin in the eyes of God. The airliner by doing so also hurt the religious feelings of the passenger,” it said.

Swiss also served the wrong meal to an Indian vegetarian

This is not the first instance of an airline being fined for giving an Indian vegetarian a meal that contained meat.

An earlier incident in 2011 saw Swiss accidentally serve a follower of the Jain religion, whose central belief is non-violence towards all things living, a meal that contained meat.


Swiss was fined Rs 20,000 for serving a vegetarian the wrong meal. Photo: Swiss

Followers of the Jain religion, refrain from not only eating meat, but eggs and root vegetables such as carrots onions, garlic, and potatoes.

They believe that acts that go against religious teaching will bring bad karma and suffering.

In this case, the plaintiff received Rs 20,000 and as a show of good faith, Swiss offered the passenger round trip business class tickets from Mumbai to Zurich.