Air India was hit with a hefty government fine after it served a dish containing meat to unsuspecting vegetarians.
Chandra Mohan Pathak and his wife were flying from Chicago to New Delhi on India in late 2016. They had pre-ordered vegetarian meals. But when they bit into their dinners after takeoff, they tasted meat. Horrified, Pathak asked to file a formal complaint onboard, but was denied. He was particularly irate that labeling for vegetarian and non-vegetarian meals were not distinguishable. Back at home, he filed a complaint with a local government consumer protection agency.
Originally, a local Chandigarh State consumer forum had asked Air India to pay a fine of Rs 10,000 (~$140) plus Rs 7,000 (~$99) for legal fees. But the Punjab Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission quadrupled the fine to Rs 40,000 and left the Rs 7,000 (totaling ~$563) to cover legal expenses for the Pathaks. The Commission condemned Air India for its poor service and offending the religious observations of the passengers.
Air India has been given 30 days to pay the fine and was instructed to deposit the money directly into the passenger’s bank account.
I know it is sometimes difficult to tell what contains meat and what does not in an Indian dish, but wouldn’t you carefully examine, including smelling, a dish if your religion proscribed meat dishes? I’m not blaming the passengers in this case, but have never understood why some people with strict dietary requirements seem so reliant upon airlines, especially on a 14-hour flight from Chicago to New Delhi!
image: Air India