I was flying from Brussels to Toronto via Brussels Airlines. While buying the ticket, we specify the type of meal that we require as it was a long flight.

I am a vegetarian, and at least 80 people on that flight were from India, flying this popular route (also vegetarian).

When we are in the air and it comes time to have dinner, I was shocked to hear that there was no vegetarian meals on the airplane.

The only vegetarian food was bread, and crackers and such, which is what I had to have for dinner. Not only me, but countless other families around me were also shocked by this incident.

We know this is not our fault, this must be the fault of the airline. I remind you that this was dinner time, the people around us would have chicken or beef while we were stuck having the small loaf of bread.

I am wondering if I can seek compensation for this. Many of us were annoyed, it was a long flight, and we even got delayed by an hour, but mostly I want compensation for the lack of food service and vegetarian food.

I never had this problem before in my life, and this mistake I believe must be on the airline itself.

I tried to lookup compensation for missing meals, but could not find anything online useful.

  • 17
    Always take your own food on the plane unless you know you'll do fine without a meal onboard. I usually pack a few snack bars, just in case.
    – JonathanReez
    Dec 26, 2018 at 23:55
  • 4
    In general it is not guaranteed that vegetarian meal would be available.I always book a vegetarian meal (AVML) while booking flight tickets.
    – hojusaram
    Dec 27, 2018 at 3:38
  • 7
    @hojusaram "While buying the ticket, we specify the type of meal that we require as it was a long flight.". Well it seems like it was booked, and if the answer still holds in this case that goes to contrary to all my experience with booking things.
    – Predelnik
    Dec 27, 2018 at 8:22
  • Complain to an agent when you land and request for airport food vouchers.
    – MonkeyZeus
    Dec 27, 2018 at 14:31
  • It is common that pople with pre-booked special diet meals get them first before the general serving. On my last flight with a different airline the Indian passangers sitting next to me get their that way. It is strange that you were not served that way if you booked your meal but perhaps it was due to the unexpected number of such bookings? I would expect an explicit apology then. Or perhaps they do not treat vegetarians that way but only, say, vegans and other more unusual diets and hope to cover vegetarians with their usual number of veget. meal share? Normally those are those that remain. Dec 27, 2018 at 23:28

2 Answers 2


You have no recourse for compensation other than perhaps to call and ask for a few miles to be credited to your frequent flier account. Brussels Airline is a reputable airline, they will likely agree to do that. They do not like negative publicity.

Meals on most airlines are not part of the contract, they are a courtesy offered to you and have zero monetary value when not provided. You could not find out anything about compensation for meals because it does not exist.

It was an unfortunate situation however you are not going to get any traction on that. Even in the USA which is the hotbed of litigation where we sue for anything and everything, you would not get anything out of the courts.


Call the frequent flyer number and complain enough and you will get some miles credited to your account otherwise fuhgeddaboudit.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Willeke
    Dec 27, 2018 at 21:13

I have no idea how Brussels Airlines manage their meal ordering system, but even when specifying your request beforehand I think there is a big distinction to be made between preferences (such as a vegetarian meal) and medical necessities (such as a diabetic meal). As someone who requires a diabetic meal I am rarely let down by airlines -- though it does happen and some cabin crew are very careless about snacks, even though they know that the patient has had a diabetic meal -- but I always carry suitable protein bars when travelling, so I won't be stuck for suitable food. Actually, when ordering a special meal you may find that you get better attention as a result as alert cabin crew will check at boarding time who you are and that you are occupying the seat specified in their manifest. The often-criticised (though not by me) China Southern are particularly good in that respect. KLM are very good at providing alternative sugar-free snack items on request.

  • 1
    This doesn't answer the question Jan 2, 2019 at 17:03
  • In my experience, medically required diets and "preference" diets are specified in exactly the same way to airlines. The airline would have no idea whether a vegetarian meal was a choice, or due to an allergy.
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 2, 2019 at 17:06
  • 1
    @MJeffryes: The consequences of skipping a meal are very different for a diabetic than an allergy sufferer.
    – Ben Voigt
    Jan 2, 2019 at 17:47
  • @BenVoigt Not disputing that. But I was pointing out that special meals are all ordered in the same way.
    – MJeffryes
    Jan 2, 2019 at 17:52

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