Dear HK Express, serve vegan food and then I’ll consider buying some

On a recent flight one of the HK Express Cabin Crew hounded me for taking vegan food on the plane. If HK Express were just a little smarter, it would save us all some trouble. Here’s the low down.


Pic source – wiki commons

Equipped with the vegan passport, my better half and I set off on a three destination food trip:-

  • Kyoto, Japan
  • Osaka, Japan
  • Busan, South Korea

Very enjoyable too with plenty places for all vegan food especially in Kyoto such as Organic House Salute and Padma. Outbound and inbound flights were with HK Express (the short flight between Osaka and Busan was with a different airline). Flights between Hong Kong and Osaka or Busan take around three and a half hours. Not the longest flights on earth by any stretch. Nor are they the shortest though. Otherwise HK Express wouldn’t offer inflight meals as a possible cross-sell on their part. Having flown before on HK Express as a vegan customer their meal choices are pretty abysmal to say the least. You either buy non-vegan or you don’t eat any of their food. Stuff that.

Among the all vegan food joints in Busan is one named Yammy Green. All vegan pizzas, burgers, pasta, pho, falafels, salads and the like. There’s an English menu for people like me unable to communicate in Korean. Staff there also speak English and are very helpful. The vegan pizza was great in this place. On eating the burger though it was obvious that a take away purchase from this place en route to the airport would obliterate any risk of inflight hunger.


And so it came to pass. The flight from Busan was in the sky. The stomach started to attention seek. Time to break out a burger. And by crikey it was delicious sinking teeth into that burger with tomato and vegan cheese. This food was my idea of inflight hunger busting. Electrical impulses were surging from the taste buds to the brain. The endorphins were pouring out of the brain with approval. Fabulous, fabulous, fabulous.


(To quote Samuel L Jackson in Pulp Fiction; “Mmmm, that is a tasty burger!”)

Not quite. This vegan foodfest attracted the attention of the Cabin Crew. The dialogue went like this:-

  • Cabin crew – “You’re not supposed to bring food on to the plane”
  • Me – “I’m vegan. If you provide vegan food I’ll buy it. Otherwise I don’t have any choice.”
  • Cabin Crew (while reaching for the menu)- “We have vegetarian.”
  • Me – “I didn’t say I was vegetarian. My diet is more specific than just vegetarian. I’m vegan. If you provide vegan food then I’ll pay for it.”
  • Cabin Crew – “Then eat your food before you get on the plane.”
  • Me – “Is that really fair? It’s a three and a half hour flight and you’re telling me I’m not allowed to eat on the plane without compromising my philosophical views. Give this business card to your management or your customer services people. Ask them to get in touch and I’ll gladly discuss this point with them”.

No doubt HK Express management are impressed by the zeal of their Cabin Crew policing against food brought on the plane that doesn’t contribute to their revenue. Do Cabin Crew get commission for inflight sales on HK Express (I’ve honestly no idea)? If someone though at HK Express had thought through their inflight catering just a little bit better, there would be an easy win-win for everyone.


Let’s consider the inflight meal menu that the HK Express Cabin Crew are supercharged to direct passengers to. As per the pic above there is a solitary item marked as “vegetarian”. That item is named on the menu as Creamy Mushroom Sauce Spaghetti.


For the sake of trying to demonstrate a simple point lets make some assumptions here. Namely let’s assume from the picture above that the only ingredients in the Creamy Mushroom Sauce Spaghetti are:-

  • egg free pasta
  • mushroom
  • dairy cream
  • herbs
  • a couple of small slices of red pepper

There’s likely some salt and maybe other ingredients in there like some flour to go in the sauce. However for the sake of simplicity let’s just assume there’s only the five suggested ingredients involved. Consider the implications if the big shots in the catering team at HK Express were to bear in mind this; every vegan is vegetarian but not every vegetarian is vegan. What if one of those five ingredients were changed so that they were for example:-

  • egg free pasta
  • mushroom
  • tomato (instead of dairy cream)
  • herbs
  • a couple of small slices of red pepper

So then you have a dish that is not lacto vegetarian. Instead you have a dish that is vegan grade vegetarian. So then the potential market for the dish is:-

  • All of the people who could potentially have purchased the Creamy Mushroom Sauce Spaghetti
  • Additional potential customers on any sort of non-dairy diet. e.g. people with milk allergy or intolerance, or people who only eat vegan food

Could it be simpler?

Dear team at HK Express for when this is sent on to you,

Please act upon this constructively. It seems to makes sense on every level for you to do so. Be positive, you know you can do it.






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