Jon Dee, a businessman and former TV presenter, flew in economy from Adelaide to Sydney on Sunday (18 September).
A flight attendant allegedly told him that Qantas “no longer serves vegetarian food on domestic flights (except Perth)” while others around him were served chicken pies.
Mr Dee said that this means that “other special meals” – such as vegan, halal, kosher, and gluten-free – have also been scrapped from flights with a duration of fewer than three-and-a-half hours.
He tweeted: “Is (Qantas CEO) Alan Joyce deliberately trying to run Qantas into the ground?
“What kind of airline stops offering vegetarian food to its passengers? It was chicken pie or nothing tonight.”
The environmentalist, who was travelling to make a speech, told NCA NewsWire that he is a gold frequent flyer member and that he has it listed on his profile that he’s vegetarian.
But, he said, when he asked about the vegetarian options he was told they were “chicken pie or chicken pie”.
Mr Dee’s tweets detailing his recent experience on Qantas sparked anger among travellers in Australia who have specific dietary requirements.
Soy rice crackers were all Jess McGuire was offered on a Qantas flight while meat-eaters were served roast beef sandwiches, she said.
The writer and broadcaster suggested that vegetarian meals be made the default option as the meals would be suitable for almost everyone.
She tweeted: “As someone who spent nearly $400 on a one way flight, it would’ve been nice to be able to eat something more than soy rice crackers while everyone else got a roast beef sandwich.
“Is it too wild to think... meat eaters can go without meat for one meal, make vego the default?”
Another Twitter user said they were also offered crackers on board.
In response to Mr Dee’s tweet, Prabha Fasman said: “I had the same experience on two Qantas flights last month. It was chicken on one and ham on the other.
“They offered me small bags of soy rice crackers, clearly the equivalent of hot snacks.”
Qantas said in a statement that, since the Covid pandemic, it has offered a single meal on shorter routes and that it continues to do so to simplify the crew’s job of serving the meals.
A spokesperson told Australian media that the airline now “offers a single refreshment option per flight, such as a chicken pie or a zucchini and onion frittata”.
“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,” the spokesperson also said, according to reports.
The Independent contacted Qantas for comment.
Phil Capps, the airline’s executive manager of product and service, 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.”
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