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Monday, December 4, 2023


In the ever-evolving landscape of air travel, where passengers eagerly anticipate their in-flight meals, there’s an unexpected twist that has recently taken social media by storm. The food served on planes has never been synonymous with gourmet cuisine, but a peculiar translation mishap has elevated the intrigue surrounding airline menus. A passenger on a China Eastern Airlines flight discovered a rather baffling option on the business class menu: “imported dog food with okra.” This linguistic misstep has sparked a flurry of reactions, prompting questions about the accuracy of translation tools and the culinary offerings at 30,000 feet.


Lost in Translation: The Unfortunate Menu Blunder

On a China Eastern Airlines business class menu, amidst conventional options like beef, seafood, and soup, one particular starter stands out: “imported dog food with okra.” The image of this menu, shared by passenger Conrad Wu on Facebook, swiftly gained attention and triggered a wave of speculation. The ensuing online discussion delves into humorous interpretations, ranging from airline pet-friendliness to jests about passengers being treated like dogs.

Consequences of Automated Translation

The incident has brought to light the potential pitfalls of relying on automated translation tools. As social media users chimed in with their reactions, Coleman So aptly cautioned about “the consequences of Google translate.” This raises broader questions about the accuracy and nuances lost in translation, especially in the context of menus catering to diverse international passengers.

Passenger Reactions: From Amusement to Concern

Edward Poon’s inquiry about the airline’s pet-friendliness and the suggestion that passengers were being treated like dogs spurred a myriad of responses. Dai Ching added a touch of humor, musing, “Must be a hot dog?” The image’s migration to Reddit further fueled the amusement, with users highlighting the specificity of the term “imported” dog food, teasing economy class passengers about their supposedly domestic canine fare.

The Quest for Clarity: Seeking Explanation from China Eastern Airlines

While the photo circulated rapidly on social media, it remains unclear which dish the translated menu is referencing. Seeking clarification, The Independent reached out to China Eastern Airlines, emphasizing the need for context to unravel the mystery behind this peculiar menu item.


A Glimpse into Airline Meal Dilemmas

This incident is not the first time airline meals have stirred controversy. Earlier this year, Japan Airlines introduced the “JAL Ethical Choice MealSkip Option,” urging passengers to forgo certain in-flight meals for ethical reasons. This move reflects a broader industry trend toward sustainability, encouraging travelers to consider the environmental impact of mid-flight dining.

Vegan Breakfast Debacle

In a separate and equally baffling incident, a business class passenger flying to Japan received an unexpected surprise when ordering a vegan breakfast. Instead of a thoughtfully curated meal, they were presented with a lone banana and a pair of chopsticks, leaving them to express their disbelief online.


The curious case of “imported dog food with okra” serves as a quirky reminder of the challenges airlines face in providing accurate translations and memorable culinary experiences. As the aviation industry navigates the delicate balance between passenger preferences and ethical considerations, such incidents add a touch of humor to the otherwise routine aspect of in-flight dining.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Is the “imported dog food with okra” a real menu item?
    • The exact nature of this menu item remains unclear, as China Eastern Airlines has not provided clarification. It could be a translation error or an unconventional dish.
  2. How did social media users react to the menu blunder?
    • Reactions varied from amusement to concern, with users speculating on the airline’s pet-friendliness and humorously interpreting the menu item.
  3. Are automated translation tools reliable for menu translations?
    • The incident highlights the limitations of automated translation tools, emphasizing the need for human oversight in sensitive contexts like menu translations.
  4. What is the “JAL Ethical Choice MealSkip Option” by Japan Airlines?
    • Japan Airlines introduced this option, allowing passengers to skip certain in-flight meals for ethical reasons, aligning with a broader industry focus on sustainability.
  5. Have there been similar incidents in the airline industry?
    • Yes, instances of unconventional or unexpected in-flight meals have surfaced before, showcasing the challenges airlines face in meeting diverse passenger expectations.
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