I am still not convinced with Air India’s Vegetarian move

Earlier this week, I wrote about how Air India had stopped serving non-vegetarian meals in the economy section of their domestic flights over 90 minutes. These are the flights where Air India serves a full hot meal. Below this flight length, they serve a snack, and they already kicked out non-vegetarian meals there.

As per Air India,

“We have decided to serve vegetarian meals in our economy-class seats on domestic flights,” Air India Chairman and Managing Director Ashwani Lohani told The Hindu. However, non-vegetarian meals would continue to be served in business and executive class on domestic as well as international flights.

The national carrier took the decision to cut wastage and cost, and to avoid mix-up of vegetarian with non-vegetarian meals. “It also eliminates the possibility of mix-up: a non-veg meal getting served to a vegetarian passenger, as it had happened a few times in the past.”

The CMD wrote up on his Facebook,


I have already listed my problems with these arguments in my earlier post:

  • This is incompetence not cost savings
  • Taking away choice is not a Full-Service Carrier notion
  • They already have an image problem, which they are adding to by taking such half-baked decisions

Now the CMD of a major full-service airline stating, “ Meals are just an add on”, I have a problem with the way the airline is thinking. Does Mr. Lohani want to drive the point already that he is doing us a favour by serving us a meal? If that is the case how about a formal announcement in that regard.

Secondly, if the airline wants to get thrifty, then why on earth are they even talking about Air India introducing free wifi on planes? I mean, you can’t have it both ways, right? On one end you say a key feature of Air India’s full service nature, its food is being take away to save about INR 8 crores on an INR 400 Crores bill every year. On the other hand, you want to install new radomes on your plane and offer free wifi? These are both elements of passenger experience, no?

Or was Air India lying and it would do anything to stay in the news, including promise free wifi? I’m confused about their approach, can you help me understand it?

About Ajay

Ajay Awtaney is the Founder and Editor of Live From A Lounge (LFAL), a pioneering digital platform renowned for publishing news and views about aviation, hotels, passenger experience, loyalty programs, travel trends and frequent travel tips for the Global Indian. He is considered the Indian authority on business travel, luxury travel, frequent flyer miles, loyalty credit cards and travel for Indians around the globe. Ajay is a frequent contributor and commentator on the media as well, including ET Now, BBC, CNBC TV18, NDTV, Conde Nast Traveller and many other outlets.

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  1. On a lighter note, this could probably be a baby step towards the larger objective of making India vegetarian and alcohol free

  2. i don’t know anyone who will not eat something that is not meat.

    i do know many that will not eat something that is meat.

    with this decision, ALL will be able to eat what is served.

  3. Who cares?? There are so many other airlines to travel arnd in india serving non veg ?? An If u dont have non veg for 2hrs ?? U still be alive. An u ur self is loyal to 9W. WHY care at all ?? Decent traveler dont fly AI anyway. You guys have so much wastage of time in there hand. Debating abt chkn

  4. Well we should ask Mr. Lohani, why does he fly B 777-300 and Dreamliners between DEL- Mumbai, DEL-HYD, DEL- MAA, DEL- BLR?? The other day I even saw an Air India B-747 flying to BOM from DEL and the aircraft originated in Delhi. No airline in the world will fly such wide bodied aircraft on a two hours sector, it just does not make economical sense! Instead of removing non- veg meals they need some sensible person taking commercial decisions on aircraft operations and they will save far more than these cosmetic cost savings which anyway will destroy customer experience.

  5. Coming from a Chicken manufacturer who supplies to air india. The paneer they buy is more expensive than chicken. And in the last three weeks they have boosted their chicken purchase.

    Clear case of incompetence.

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