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Should you skip the inflight meal? This airline says it’s the ‘ethical choice’

IATA found that 1.14 million tonnes of food waste was generated from inflight catering in a year.
IATA found that 1.14 million tonnes of food waste was generated from inflight catering in a year. Copyright Toni Osmundson (left) and Hanson Lu (right)
Copyright Toni Osmundson (left) and Hanson Lu (right)
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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IATA found that 1.14 million tonnes of food waste was generated from inflight catering in a year.


One airline is urging its customers to skip their inflight meal, calling it an ‘ethical choice’.

Japan Airlines (JAL) has been offering the ‘JAL Ethical Choice Meal Skip Option’ to passengers since 2020, allowing flyers to skip the catering service on certain routes.

The company has now announced the option will be offered on all flight bookings worldwide.

The choice helps the airline cut down on food waste, JAL says.

Should you opt out of inflight meals?

JAL has advised passengers that opting out of the inflight meal is a more sustainable choice as it reduces food waste.

The carrier also suggests skipping lunch or dinner means fewer sleep interruptions.

“We would like to introduce to you a new service ‘JAL Ethical Choice Meal Skip Option’, where you can cancel your meals during reservation to enjoy your sleep throughout the flight,” the company wrote in an email to customers.

JAL also says it will donate an undisclosed amount per ‘Meal Skip’ to the TFT Secretariat to “be used for school meal programmes for children in developing countries.”

But some passengers are not convinced.

“Would you give up your inflight meal so a starving person can eat? A no-brainer, innit, but I’d like to know HOW much the airline plans to donate per passenger and that this isn’t just a sly cost-cutting move disguised as a charitable/green initiative,” travel journalist Linsey McNeill wrote on Twitter.

Another lambasted the airline for ‘weaselling out’ of providing food included in the ticket price.

“I’m sick of airlines ripping people off. I’d purposely take the meal and waste it just to make a point,” the Twitter user wrote.

How can you opt out of the inflight meal?

The Japanese carrier has now made the ‘Meal Skip’ option available on all flights and all cabins.

To opt out of the food service, customers need to register their option 25 hours or more before the flight departure time.

In order to do so, passengers should visit the JAL website and select the ‘No Meal’ option.

Can you reduce food waste by skipping the inflight meal?

JAL claims the ‘Meal Skip’ option helps the carrier cut down on food waste.

Research by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) found that 1.14 million tonnes of food was wasted from inflight catering in 2017.

It also found that 20 per cent of all waste from passenger flights came from unconsumed food and drink.


JAL says the choice to opt out of inflight catering is part of their ambitions to become a more sustainable airline.

“In order to pass on a prosperous planet to the next generation, the JAL Group is committed to making every flight sustainable and transforming air travel into a value to be proud of, by aiming to achieve zero CO2 emissions by 2050,” the company said in December.

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