I’ll Have the Muslim Meal, Thanks

American Airlines encourages passengers to pre-book their meals online:


(Photo: chinaoffseason)

(Photo: chinaoffseason)

Why “kosher,” I wonder, but “Muslim” rather than “halal”? Should the “kosher” meal be “Jewish” instead? American, it turns out, is hardly the only airline to use this terminology. Don’t know why, but unparallel nomenclature always gets my attention …

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  1. JPB says:

    Also, aren’t there varieties of kosher? different certifying groups? There’s also varieties of Hindu diet as well as I recall though I’m sure I don’t know the proper terminology for it. As I understand, Some very strict Hindu diets go beyond being vegan/vegetarian and further prohibit vegetables from root plants such as onions and potatoes.

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    • JET says:

      That’s Jain. Not Hindus. But you are right about their diet restrictions. :) Not sure how these airlines mess this basic up

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  2. Danish Aziz says:

    Maybe because ‘halal’ as a word hasn’t entered the English dictionary, and Kosher and Muslim have. Lots of people even in India still look bewildered if you ask them for ‘halal’ food. No surprise though.

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  3. MOHAMMAD says:

    As a Muslim, I would always wonder if the Muslim meal serves was the same as the Kosher meal. Although I understand that any Halal meal may not be Kosher, all Kosher meals are by default Halal. All Kosher meat is slaughtered in an Islamically appropriate way, and the food would not have any pork products, including gelatin.

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    • Aviv says:

      “[A]ll Kosher meals are by default Halal” – I’m not sure this is true, as alcohol is kosher but I don’t believe it is halal.

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    • Anonymouse says:

      “all Kosher meals are by default Halal”.
      Perhaps technically, but from a religious point of view, absolutely not.

      I highly doubt that the “kosher” slaughter procedure incorporates the following –

      “…must precede the slaughter by invoking the name of Allah, most commonly by saying “Bismillah” (“In the name of Allah”) and then three times “Allahu akbar” “

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      • SF says:

        Actually, I once saw a documentary from a slaughterhouse where they had a guy, or was it a speaker system, read out a Jewish verse and the Muslim one for each slaughter, just in case they later wanted to ship the products to somewhere that was required.

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  4. Ryan says:

    Part of my responsibility at work is booking people’s flights. I have wondered the exact same thing!

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  5. Chibinium says:

    I haven’t been on a flight that offered meals in a while. However, amongst all these choices, I’d choose Muslim for the hell of it. I know it’s not going to be Persian jeweled rice, but I imagine it’d be delicious.

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    • BD says:

      The deliciousness factor really depends on the airline. I always request the muslim/halal meal and on most airlines, it’s usually some form of ‘ethnic’ food which is fantastic compared to the usual bleh stuff.

      One time though on a trip to London on Air Canada, while my non-muslim boyfriend was digging into a cheesy, meaty warm breakfast, I was presented with a cold pumpkin bagel that was labelled Muslim meal/Kosher Meal/Low fat meal/Vegan/Vegetarian/Low Sodium meal (or something along those lines). As you can imagine, it was cold, hard pumpkin flavoured cardboard.

      As a Muslim, the nomenclature does bother me a little bit every time I make a request to the airline. However the incorrect terminology is nothing compared to harassment or threats of violence that some experience.

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    • Karin says:

      Despite being an Australian Caucasian omnivore I always try to order the ‘Indian vegetarian’ option on international flights. It’s the best way to ensure the meal is spicy, delicious, and free of disgusting mystery meat.

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  6. James says:

    Wouldn’t it make things so much simpler (and probably cheaper, too), if the airlines just told everyone to bring a sack lunch?

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    • Enter your name... says:

      That’s a bit complicated for intercontinental flights, especially with restrictions on taking in “liquids” and “gels” (categories that include peanut butter and applesauce).

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  7. greg says:

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  8. IzzyJo says:

    As an aside, booking any sort of special meal reduces your chances of an involuntary upgrade, as it’s quite difficult to get the meals to the person if you swap cabins. Sort of understandable, but I’m sure is a form of indirect discrimination. Probably lawful though, because you get what you pay for.

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    • rk says:

      This is incorrect; I have had many times the coach meal served to me when I was upgraded within the 24 hr period. They simply plate it nicely and many times apologize for how simple it looks.

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