Airports can be stressful enough, without the added stress of being denied boarding. I had the misfortune of being almost denied boarding my recent Japan Airlines flight from London Heathrow to Tokyo Haneda when I made an interesting service selection.
Booking a flight
Part-way through the online booking process there's a service selection page for seats and meals. It looks like this:
It appeared to be straightforward. I selected our desired seats, and then scrolled down to the Request in-flight meal section. It contained a single drop-down menu with meal options. It looked like this:
Where we can see some special meal options and the option to select No Meal. I found myself wondering if Japan Airlines only offered special meals on their flights, as I couldn't see an option to select a Standard Meal.
I had a look through their Special in-flight meals page that was linked above and liked the sound of their Diabetic Meal:
Prepared using lean meat, high-fiber ingredients, and no deep-fried foods? Leading up to the holiday, my diet was mostly sugar-free, so this was perfect! My daughter also went for the Diabetic Meal, and my wife went for the Low Salt Meal.
The day of the flight
Fast-forward to the day of the flight, at the gate, and we're about to board. The gate agent is checking our boarding passes and passports, and I see her computer screen displaying a message in big red letters: "DO NOT ALLOW BOARDING".
We had been awake for 12 hours at this point on 2 hours sleep the night before, so I was already feeling a little stressed. The gate agent started asking me if I had my insulin with me, and within that instant I figured out what the issue was. I was just hoping it's not too late to fix it.
I explained that I didn't have diabetes, and that I had selected the Diabetic Meal because I liked the sound of it. She eventually understood the issue and tried to resolve it. She called someone on the phone and explained the situation. Some clicking, typing, and tension later, my daughter and I were able to board the flight.
And, that is how I was almost denied boarding my Japan Airlines flight.
Insult to injury
A while into our 14-hour flight, the flight attendants came around with the meal service. The Diabetic Meal was identical to the Low Salt Meal! A few days into our holiday, we called Japan Airlines to switch all our meals to the Low Salt Meal to avoid any further challenges on the return journey.